1210-20 NY Times Crossword 10 Dec 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Jack Murtagh
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Symbolic Elements

Themed clues each start with the symbol for a chemical element, which must be separated from the rest of the attached word:

  • 16A Siding? : SILICON CHIP (Si ding)
  • 27A Oration? : OXYGEN SUPPLY (O ration)
  • 36A Female? : IRON MAN (Fe male)
  • 43A Aground? : SILVER BULLET (Ag round)
  • 57A Cold? : CARBON DATED (C old)

Bill’s time: 12m 33s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Orthodontic challenges : GAPS

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry dealing with the straightening of teeth. The name comes from the Greek “orthos” meaning “straight” and “dontia” meaning “teeth”.

10 Grp. that might hold a raffle : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

14 Like some residents on the Gulf of Aden : SOMALI

Somalia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Sadly, the nation is noted today for a devastating civil war and for its use as a base for pirates who prey on ships passing through the Indian Ocean along the Somali coast.

The Gulf of Aden is the body of water that lies south of the Red Sea, and just north of the Horn of Africa.

16 Siding? : SILICON CHIP (Si ding)

Silicon is a semiconducting material. This means that it is sort of halfway between an insulator and a conductor. Silicon acts as an insulator until a voltage is applied, and if that voltage is sufficiently high then the silicon becomes a conductor. The electronics industry uses this phenomenon to make devices that can “switch” (turn from insulator to conductor) by application of a voltage.

19 Traveling figure, briefly : ETA

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

20 It shares a 1,650+ mile border with the U.S.: Abbr. : ONT

The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city (and the capital of the province).

25 ___ Heep, David Copperfield rival : URIAH

Uriah Heep is a sniveling and insincere character in the novel “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The character is such a “yes man” that today, if we know someone who behaves the same way, then we might call that person a “Uriah Heep”.

33 Q2 and Q3 maker : AUDI

The Audi name has an interesting history. The Horch company was founded by August Horch in 1909. Early in the life of the new company, Horch was forced out of his own business. He set up a new enterprise and continued to use his own name as a brand. The old company sued him for using the Horch name so a meeting was held to choose something new. Horch’s young son was studying Latin in the room where the meeting was taking place. He pointed out that “horch” was German for “hear” and he suggested “Audi” as a replacement, the Latin for “listen”.

35 Juice brand : POM

POM Wonderful is a privately-held company that has been making fruit juice drinks since 2002. The main product line is pomegranate juice, hence the company name.

36 Female? : IRON MAN (Fe male)

The Latin word for “iron” is “ferrum”, which gives us “Fe” as the metal’s chemical symbol.

39 What “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” supposedly isn’t about : LSD

Julian Lennon is the oldest child of John Lennon and his first wife Cynthia Powell. Julian was the inspiration of several Beatles songs, including “Hey Jude” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. “Hey Jude” was originally a song called “Hey Jules”, written by Paul McCartney. He wrote the original song for Julian, as a way of comforting the child during his parents divorce. One day in 1966, Julian came home from nursery school and showed his Dad a drawing he had made of his classmate, a little girl called Lucy O’Donnell. Julian described the artwork as “Lucy … in the sky with diamonds”.

41 Podcast host Maron : MARC

Stand-up comedian Marc Maron has been hosting the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron” since 2009. The online show features interviews with comedians and celebrities. The list of interviewees is pretty impressive, and includes Conan O’Brien, Robin Williams and even President Barack Obama.

42 Hill with no peak : MESA

“What’s the difference between a butte and a mesa?” Both are hills with flat tops, but a mesa has a top that is wider than it is tall. A butte is a much narrower formation, and taller than it is wide.

43 Aground? : SILVER BULLET (Ag round)

The chemical symbol for the element silver is “Ag”, which comes from the Latin word for silver, which is “argentum”.

We use the term “silver bullet” to describe a quick and effortless solution to a tricky problem. Famously, the Lone Ranger used bullets cast from silver in the cowboy series that ran on radio in the thirties, and later on television. According to 19th-century folklore, a silver bullet had magical power and was effective against werewolves, witches, vampires and the Devil.

48 Foil, e.g. : BLADE

Before the foil was introduced as a sporting weapon, it was used as a blunted weapon for sword practice. It has been suggested that the sword was blunted by wrapping metal foil around the tip, hence the name.

53 Rock’s Joan ___ & the Blackhearts : JETT

“Joan Jett” is the stage name of rock guitarist and singer Joan Marie Larkin. She is best known as a member of the band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, which formed in 1979.

54 Main squeeze, in modern lingo : BAE

“Bae” is a contemporary term of endearment. It is a pet name that is an abbreviation of “babe, baby”, although I’ve also read that it is an acronym standing for “before anyone else”.

55 Réunion buddy : AMI

Réunion is a French island in the Indian Ocean, located east of Madagascar. As the island is a department of France, and has the same status as French domestic departments, Réunion is actually part of the European Union.

57 Cold? : CARBON DATED (C old)

Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that is found in nature in small amounts. Carbon-14 is used in the technique known as radiocarbon dating, a relatively accurate way of determining the age of something up to about 60,000 years old. When an organism is alive, the amount of radioactive carbon-14 it has compared to the amount of regular carbon-12, is a fixed ratio. After the organism dies, it is no longer exchanging carbon with the atmosphere through metabolism. So, the stable carbon-12 stays in the body as it rots but the radioactive carbon-14 gradually decays, causing the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 to fall. Scientists can determine the age of remains by measuring this carbon-14/carbon-12 ratio.

The chemical element carbon has the symbol C and atomic number 6. Pure carbon exists in several physical forms, including graphite and diamond.

62 ___ Fields : MRS

The Mrs. Fields brand of snack foods was founded in the late seventies by Debbi Fields. Fields opened her first store in Palo Alto, California.

63 Fried snack dusted with cinnamon sugar : CHURRO

A churro is pastry made from fried dough, and is sometimes called a Spanish doughnut. Churros are often served for breakfast, when they are dipped in hot chocolate or milky coffee.

“True” cinnamon sticks are taken from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. However, a lot of cinnamon sticks are also sold that come from a related species of tree, and these are more correctly referred to as “cassia”.

64 ___ Millions : MEGA

The Mega Millions lottery game is available in most states of the US, as is its major rival called Powerball.

65 It hits close to home : BAT

That would be baseball.

66 “On again, off again” love stories, say : SAGAS

“Saga” is an Old Norse word describing a long and elaborate story, and a word that we’ve been using in English only since the early 1700s.

Down

2 Dog breed named after a region in Japan : AKITA

The Akita breed of dog is named for its point of origin, Akita Prefecture in Japan. When Helen Keller visited Japan in 1937, she asked for and was given an Akita breed of dog, with the name of Kamikaze-go. Sadly, the dog died within a year from distemper. The following year the Japanese government officially presented Keller with a replacement dog. Supposedly Keller’s dogs were the first members of the breed to be introduced into the US.

5 Novelist/essayist Susan : SONTAG

Susan Sontag was a writer and political activist from New York City. Sontag wrote extensively on a number of subjects, including photography. She spent the last decade of her life in a relationship with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

6 World’s largest theater chain : AMC

The AMC theater chain used to go by the name American Multi-Cinema Inc., hence the initialism “AMC”.

8 Hometown hero of Louisville, Ky. : ALI

“The Muhammad Ali Center” is a museum in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The center was opened in 2005 and explores the life of the champion boxer and features exhibitions that reflect Ali’s core values. I’m a real “museumphile”, and so was thrilled to be able to visit the Muhammad Ali Center a few years ago. Sadly, I found that this one missed the mark somehow …

The city of Louisville, Kentucky was chartered as a town in 1780 and was named in honor of King Louis XVI of France as French soldiers were aiding Americans in the Revolutionary War that was raging at that time.

10 Longtime Life Savers flavor : PINEAPPLE

Life Savers were introduced in 1912. The candy was created by Clarence Crane who contracted a pill manufacturer to press his formulation for mints into shape. The pill manufacturer found that the pieces of candy were produced more easily if a hole was stamped in the middle. The Life Saver name was chosen as the candy had the same shape as lifebuoys.

17 Wheedle : COAX

To wheedle is to influence by flattery for one’s gain. “Wheedle” is such a lovely verb, I think …

24 Top round steak, e.g. : LEAN CUT
25 Grp. that determines what a 24-Down is : USDA

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies meat into eight different grades:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select
  • Standard
  • Commercial
  • Utility
  • Cutter
  • Canner

26 Pompeii, for one : RUIN

The ancient city of Pompeii is situated close to Naples in Italy. Pompeii was destroyed in AD 79 by the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius. The city was completely lost from that time, and was only rediscovered in 1748. Excavations have uncovered the remarkably well-preserved buildings and roads, and Pompeii now attracts over 2 million visitors annually.

30 Frequent filers, for short : CPAS

Certified public accountant (CPA)

31 Player with a record 10 World Series championships : YOGI BERRA

Yogi Berra is regarded by many as the greatest catcher ever to play in Major League Baseball, and has to be America’s most celebrated “author” of malapropisms. Here are some greats:

  • It ain’t over till it’s over.
  • 90% of the game is half mental.
  • Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
  • When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
  • It’s déjà vu all over again.
  • Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.
  • A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.

36 Discussed over Slack, say, in brief : IMED

Even though instant messaging (sending and receiving IMs) has been around since the 1960s, it was AOL who popularized the term “instant message” in the eighties and nineties. The “AOL Instant Message” service was known as AIM.

38 Magic 8 Ball, e.g. : ORB

The Magic 8-Ball is a toy, and supposedly a fortune-telling device, introduced by Mattel in 1946. There are 20 answers that the Magic 8-Ball can provide, including:

  • Without a doubt
  • Ask again later
  • My sources say no
  • Outlook not so good
  • Signs point to yes

45 Herculean efforts : LABORS

“The Twelve Labors of Hercules” is actually a Greek myth, although Hercules is the Roman name for the hero that the Greeks called Heracles.

46 Grassy plain of the Southwest : LLANO

“Llano” is the Spanish word for “plain”.

50 Curmudgeonly sort : HATER

“Curmudgeon” is a favorite word used by my wife to describe me. A curmudgeon is a bad-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions. I am sure she uses the term very affectionately …

51 Resistance figure : OMEGA

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.

52 A constant celebration? : PI DAY

The first three digits of the mathematical constant pi are 3.14. Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14th (3/14) every year since 1988, when it was inaugurated at the San Francisco Exploratorium. In countries where the day is usually written before the month, Pi Day is July 22nd, reflecting the more accurate approximation of pi as 22/7. Interestingly, March 14th is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

53 A window may go in it : JAMB

A door jamb or window jamb is the vertical portion of the frame. The term “jamb” comes from the French word “jambe” meaning “leg”.

57 Injection units, for short : CCS

Cubic centimeter (cc)

60 Cup holder : BRA

The word “brassière” is French in origin, but it isn’t the word that the French use for a “bra”. In France, what we call a bra is known as a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word “brassière” is indeed used in France but there it describes a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breastplate” and from there the word was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.

61 Fuse box unit : AMP

The unit of electric current is the ampere, which is abbreviated correctly to “A” rather than “amp”. It is named after French physicist André-Marie Ampère, one of the main scientists responsible for the discovery of electromagnetism.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Orthodontic challenges : GAPS
5 Doctor’s order : SAY AH
10 Grp. that might hold a raffle : PTA
13 “Please, enough already!” : OK OK!
14 Like some residents on the Gulf of Aden : SOMALI
15 What’s anything but neutral? : ION
16 Siding? : SILICON CHIP (Si ding)
18 Sarcastic sentence ender : … NOT!
19 Traveling figure, briefly : ETA
20 It shares a 1,650+ mile border with the U.S.: Abbr. : ONT
21 “I’m game if you’re game!” : LET’S!
22 Sound track? : EAR CANAL
25 ___ Heep, David Copperfield rival : URIAH
27 Oration? : OXYGEN SUPPLY (O ration)
30 Dermatologist’s concern : CYST
33 Q2 and Q3 maker : AUDI
34 ___-green : PEA
35 Juice brand : POM
36 Female? : IRON MAN (Fe male)
39 What “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” supposedly isn’t about : LSD
40 Factor for determining one’s grade in school : AGE
41 Podcast host Maron : MARC
42 Hill with no peak : MESA
43 Aground? : SILVER BULLET (Ag round)
48 Foil, e.g. : BLADE
49 Discuss work outside of work, say : TALK SHOP
53 Rock’s Joan ___ & the Blackhearts : JETT
54 Main squeeze, in modern lingo : BAE
55 Réunion buddy : AMI
56 Were present? : ARE
57 Cold? : CARBON DATED (C old)
62 ___ Fields : MRS
63 Fried snack dusted with cinnamon sugar : CHURRO
64 ___ Millions : MEGA
65 It hits close to home : BAT
66 “On again, off again” love stories, say : SAGAS
67 Hope beyond hope : PRAY

Down

1 “Check it out for yourself” : GO SEE
2 Dog breed named after a region in Japan : AKITA
3 Frigid : POLAR
4 One on a slippery slope : SKI
5 Novelist/essayist Susan : SONTAG
6 World’s largest theater chain : AMC
7 Informal word of agreement : YAH
8 Hometown hero of Louisville, Ky. : ALI
9 Swingin’ : HIP
10 Longtime Life Savers flavor : PINEAPPLE
11 Lacking bite : TOOTHLESS
12 Colonial workers, maybe : ANTS
14 Little fella : SONNY
17 Wheedle : COAX
21 It may be glossed over : LIP
23 Infirmary sight : COT
24 Top round steak, e.g. : LEAN CUT
25 Grp. that determines what a 24-Down is : USDA
26 Pompeii, for one : RUIN
28 ___ Lock (PC key) : NUM
29 When repeated, “You get the idea” : YADA
30 Frequent filers, for short : CPAS
31 Player with a record 10 World Series championships : YOGI BERRA
32 Superficial inspection : SMELL TEST
36 Discussed over Slack, say, in brief : IMED
37 Like shark attacks : RARE
38 Magic 8 Ball, e.g. : ORB
42 You may find a range of these: Abbr. : MTS
44 Sight at a winery : VAT
45 Herculean efforts : LABORS
46 Grassy plain of the Southwest : LLANO
47 Stretched (out) : EKED
50 Curmudgeonly sort : HATER
51 Resistance figure : OMEGA
52 A constant celebration? : PI DAY
53 A window may go in it : JAMB
57 Injection units, for short : CCS
58 Clicking sound? : AHA!
59 Persian, e.g. : RUG
60 Cup holder : BRA
61 Fuse box unit : AMP

14 thoughts on “1210-20 NY Times Crossword 10 Dec 20, Thursday”

  1. 35:49 with a lookup. I was stymied in the NW corner for a very long time – part of it was having SCRIP (doctor’s prescription order) vs SAYAH and my overthinking the problem, as SAYAH is pretty straightforward. Even tho I had 4 of the 5 Element themed entries I just never understood that theme and could not find my way to SILICON to unlock that section.

  2. 29:39 Took longer than normal, even for me, but my daughter wanted to help, and she was intrigued by the unique construction/clueing of this Thursday puzzle…no harm in getting the younger set addicted, right?

  3. 17:33. A+ theme. I solved the puzzle and then stared at it trying to figure out the theme. I knew there was something there with MAN in IRONMAN and “Female” so I looked at opposites…embarrassingly enough. Found nothing but eventually saw the Fe-IRON and MAN-male connections.

    In Wordplay today the setter lists a few others that didn’t make it: Cape-CARBON COPY and Curing-COPPERTONE were two that didn’t make it.

    Best –

  4. 27:49 with no errors (whew). I never quite got the theme but did suss out the answers. As a science major I should have figured out the chemistry of the puzzle…but I finished school eons ago.

  5. No errors but pretty tricky.. seemed like a constant barrage of abbreviated cluing beyond the theme.. got the theme early so that helped..

    Once again, a couple of products I’ve never heard of. 35A POM? and 62A MRS FIELDS. Even after I looked them up. I must not spend enough time in the grocery store..

  6. 47:34 no errors but it took me ten minutes or so after completion to finally get the theme…very clever…also reading 30D as frequent fliers over and over didn’t help the cause.
    Stay safe.😀
    Go Ravens 🙏

  7. I picked up the theme with IRONMAN and smiled the rest of the way. I’m sure that constructors lay awake at night trying to come up with themes for their creations. In this case I’m glad he did. No errors, good stuff.

  8. 22:34, no errors. Challenging grid, I liked it. Fell into several traps: 13A I’M OK; 20A MEX; 28D CAP; 30A ACNE/RASH; 32D SNIFF TEST.

  9. Never got the theme and DNF-ed. But took chemistry
    more than 55 years ago and the only thing I remember
    about it was I got an “F”. So I have an excuse – right?

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