1214-20 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 20, Monday

Constructed by: Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Women of Letters

Themed answers are famous WOMEN with a name that sounds like a LETTER:

  • 53A Female scholars … or a hint to 19-, 28-, 34- and 42-Across : WOMEN OF LETTERS
  • 19A Model/TV host on a record five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers : ELLE MACPHERSON
  • 28A “Grey’s Anatomy” actress : SANDRA OH
  • 34A “Full Frontal” host : SAMANTHA BEE
  • 42A North Carolina senator who unseated Elizabeth Dole : KAY HAGAN

Bill’s time: 5m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Swedish group that once comprised two married couples : ABBA

I am an unapologetic fan of ABBA’s music. ABBA was the Swedish group who topped the charts in the seventies and eighties. The name ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of the given names of each of the band members: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid. Early in their careers, the four fell in love and formed two married couples: Agnetha and Bjorn, and Benny and Anni-Frid. However, at the height of their success, the relationships became strained and both couples divorced.

12 Sagan who hosted TV’s “Cosmos” : CARL

“Cosmos: A Personal Journey” is a TV show co-written and presented by astronomer Carl Sagan. Originally airing in 1980, it was the most-watched series in the history of public television until Ken Burns started to produce his documentaries a decade later. Sagan’s opening words for the series are:

The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

13 Like calamari … or overloaded circuitry : FRIED

“Calamaro” is the Italian word for “squid” (plural “calamari”).

16 Game with Mrs. White and Professor Plum : CLUE

Clue is a board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as “Cluedo”. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …

17 Kendrick with 13 Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize : LAMAR

Kendrick Lamar is a hip-hop singer from Compton, California. Lamar’s full name is Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, with the singer’s given name honoring Motown artist Eddie Kendricks. Notably, his 2017 album “Damn” won a Pulitzer Prize for Music, becoming the first non-classical or non-jazz album to do so.

18 “The Little Rascals” assent : OTAY

Hal Roach made a whole series of comedy shorts with “The Little Rascals”, also known as “Our Gang”. This very likable bunch of kids included Spanky and his kid brother, Porky. Porky had a speech impediment so he couldn’t pronounce “Okay, Spanky” very clearly and it came out as “Otay, Panky”.

19 Model/TV host on a record five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers : ELLE MACPHERSON

Elle Macpherson is an Australian supermodel. She appeared five times on the cover of the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue”, which is more than any other model.

28 “Grey’s Anatomy” actress : SANDRA OH

Canadian actress Sandra Oh is very much associated with the role of Dr. Cristina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy”, and more recently with the role of Eve Polastri on “Killing Eve” . However, my favorite of Oh’s performances are in the movies “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Sideways”.

“Gray’s Anatomy” is a very successful human anatomy textbook that was first published back in 1858 and is still in print today. The original text was written by English anatomist Henry Gray, who gave his name to the work. The TV medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” (note “Grey” vs. Gray”) is centered on the character Dr. Meredith Grey, but the show’s title is a nod to the title of the famous textbook.

33 It has a double helix : DNA

Francis Crick and James Watson discovered that DNA had a double-helix, chain-like structure, and published their results in Cambridge in 1953. To this day the discovery is mired in controversy, as some crucial results collected by fellow researcher Rosalind Franklin were used without her permission or even knowledge. In 1962, along with molecular biologist Maurice Wilkins, Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

34 “Full Frontal” host : SAMANTHA BEE

Samantha Bee is a comedian from Toronto who found fame as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” starting way back in 2003. Bee left “The Daily Show” in 2015 to host her own late-night talk show “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS.

38 Dem.’s counterpart : REP

The modern-day Republican Party was founded in 1854 by anti-slavery activists. The party’s name was chosen as a homage to Thomas Jefferson’s Republican Party, which had been subsumed into the Democratic-Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican US president, in 1861. Since then, there have been more US presidents from the Republican party than from any other.

41 Down Under hopper, informally : ROO

A male kangaroo is known as a buck, jack or boomer. A female is called a jill flier or doe. A young kangaroo is a joey, and a group of kangaroos is a mob or troop.

42 North Carolina senator who unseated Elizabeth Dole : KAY HAGAN

When Democrat Kay Hagan defeated Republican Elizabeth Dole in the race for Dole’s North Carolina seat in the US Senate in 2008, Hagan became the first woman to defeat an incumbent woman in a Senate election. Hagan was herself unseated six years later, by Republican Thom Tillis. In 2016, Hagan contracted Powassan virus, a disease transmitted by ticks, that caused inflammation of her brain. She passed away three years later due to complications from the viral infection.

45 Kind of tea from India : ASSAM

Assam is a state in the far northeast of India, and just south of the Himalayas. Assam is noted for its tea, as well as its silk.

57 Cher or Adele : DIVA

The term “diva” comes to us from Latin via Italian. “Diva” is the feminine form of “divus” meaning “divine one”. The word is used in Italy to mean “goddess” or “fine lady”, and especially is applied to the prima donna in an opera. We often use the term to describe a singer with a big ego.

“Cher” is the stage name used by singer and actress Cherilyn Sarkisian. Formerly one half of husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher, she is often referred to as the Goddess of Pop. In her acting career, Cher was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar of 1984 for her performance in “Silkwood”. She went further in 1988 and won the season’s Best Actress Oscar for playing Loretta Castorini in “Moonstruck”.

“Adele” is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. Her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.

58 Storehouse of valuables : TROVE

The term “treasure trove” comes from the Anglo-French “tresor trové “ meaning “found treasure”.

63 Fashion monogram : YSL

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was an Algerian-born French fashion designer. Saint Laurent started off working as an assistant to Christian Dior at the age of 17. Dior died just four years later, and as a very young man Saint-Laurent was named head of the House of Dior. However, in 1950 Saint Laurent was conscripted into the French Army and ended up in a military hospital after suffering a mental breakdown from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow soldiers. His treatment included electroshock therapy and administration of sedatives and psychoactive drugs. He was released from hospital, managed to pull his life back together and started his own fashion house. A remarkable story …

64 With 61-Across, like some typefaces : SANS …
61A See 64-Across : … SERIF

Serifs are details on the ends of characters in some typefaces. Typefaces without serifs are known as sans-serif, using the French word “sans” meaning “without” and “serif” from the Dutch “schreef” meaning “line”. Some people say that serif fonts are easier to read on paper, whereas sans-serif fonts work better on a computer screen. I’m not so sure though …

65 Small wire nail : BRAD

A brad is a slender wire nail with a relatively small head that is typically used to tack pieces of wood together, i.e. to fasten either temporarily or with minimal damage to the wood. Nowadays, brads are commonly applied using a nail gun.

Down

2 “Swan Lake,” for one : BALLET

“Swan Lake” is such a delightfully light and enjoyable ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. “Swan Lake” tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by a sorcerer. The ballet also features Odile, Odette’s “evil twin”. Odile is disguised to look like Odette with the goal of tricking the prince to fall in love with her. In the ballet, the roles of Odette and Odile are played by the same ballerina. Odette’s love interest is Prince Siegfried, the only character in the ballet to appear in all four acts.

3 Crème ___ (dessert) : BRULEE

Crème brûlée is a classic French dessert consisting of a rich custard topped with a crusty layer of caramelized sugar. The name “crème brûlée” translates from French as “burnt cream”.

4 Downwind, at sea : ALEE

Alee is the direction away from the wind. If a sailor points into the wind, he or she is pointing aweather.

5 Company with a spokesduck : AFLAC

In 1999, Aflac (American Family Life Assurance Company) was huge in the world of insurance but it wasn’t a household name, so a New York advertising agency was given the task of making the Aflac brand more memorable. One of the agency’s art directors, while walking around Central Park one lunchtime, heard a duck quacking and in his mind linked it with “Aflac”, and that duck has been “Aflacking” ever since …

9 Beverage with a lightning bolt in its logo : GATORADE

Gatorade was developed at the University of Florida by a team of researchers at the request of the school’s football team. And so, Gatorade is named after the Gators football team.

10 Leave in the lurch : ABANDON

To leave someone in the lurch is to abandon them in a difficult position. The phrase comes from an old French game called “lourche” or “lurch”, which was similar to backgammon. A player left “in the lurch” was in a hopeless position from which he or she could only lose the game.

11 “Gangnam Style” rapper : PSY

“PSY” is the stage name of South Korean rapper Park Jae-sang. PSY became an international star when his 2012 music video “Gangnam Style” went viral on YouTube. That video had over 1 billion views on YouTube in about six months, making it the most viewed YouTube video clip of all time. The title of the song refers to a lifestyle experienced in the Gangnam District of Seoul.

21 G.O.P. color on an election map : RED

On political maps, red states are usually Republican and blue states usually Democrat. The designation of red and blue states is a very recent concept, only introduced in the 2000 presidential election by TV journalist, the late Tim Russert. In retrospect, the choice of colors is surprising, as in other democracies around the world red is usually used to describe left-leaning socialist parties (the reds under the bed!), and blue is used for conservative right-wing parties. In election cycles, swing/battleground states are often depicted in purple.

25 ___ Na Na : SHA

Do you remember the band “Johnny Casino & The Gamblers” in the movie “Grease”? That was actually the real-world group named Sha Na Na. Johnny Casino & the Gamblers sang “Those Magic Changes” at the high school dance, in between “Rock’N Roll Is Here to Stay” and “Hound Dog”. Sha Na Na got together in the sixties, hosted the variety show “Sha Na Na” from 1977 to 1981, and are still performing today.

27 1970s measure that fell three states short of passing, in brief : ERA

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written by the American suffragist leader, Alice Paul. Although Paul was successful in her campaign to get passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution (guaranteeing voting rights regardless of sex), her 1923 Equal Rights Amendment didn’t make it to the Senate floor until 1972. The amendment was passed by the Senate, and then headed to the state legislatures for the required ratification. 38 states had to approve the legislation for the amendment to be adopted, but only 35 states voted in favor before the deadline. The amendment is still pending, although about half of the fifty states have adopted the ERA into their state constitutions.

29 German’s “Alas!” : ACH!

The German exclamation “ach!” is usually translated into English as “oh!”

34 Typical John le Carré work : SPY NOVEL

“John le Carré” is the pen name of David Cornwell, an English author who is famous for his spy novels. Cornwell worked for British Intelligence during the fifties and sixties, even as he was writing his spy thrillers. He left MI6 soon after his most famous 1963 novel “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”, became such a great success.

35 Unionized teachers’ grp. : NEA

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union in the country, and mainly represents public school teachers.

37 Greek goddess of the dawn : EOS

In Greek mythology, Eos was the goddess of the dawn who lived at the edge of the ocean. Eos would wake each morning to welcome her brother Helios the sun. The Roman equivalent of Eos was Aurora. Rather delightfully, Homer referred to Eos as “rosy-fingered dawn” in both “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

38 Studio behind “It’s a Wonderful Life” : RKO

The RKO Pictures studio was formed when RCA (RADIO Corporation of America) bought the KEITH-Albee-ORPHEUM theaters (and Joe Kennedy’s Film Booking Offices of America). The RKO initialism then comes from the words “Radio”, “Keith” and “Orpheum”.

The Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in 1946, and is a Frank Capra movie starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. The film’s screenplay was adapted from a short story called “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Remember the famous swimming pool scene? That was shot in Beverly High School gym, and the pool is still in use today.

39 Pincered insects : EARWIGS

The insect known as the earwig may have gotten its name from the mistaken belief that it burrowed into the human brain via the ear canal in order to lay its eggs in the brain.

43 Gaza Strip governing group : HAMAS

Hamas is the Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. “Hamas” translates into English as “enthusiasm”, and is also an acronym in Arabic for “Islamic Resistance Movement”. Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by many nations in the world, including the US.

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the boundaries of the strip of land on the Mediterranean around Gaza were fixed in the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement. The boundaries were specifically defined but were not to be recognized as an international border. From 1948, the Gaza Strip was occupied and administered by Egypt, until 1967 when Israel took over occupation following the Six-Day War. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords which handed over administration to the Palestinian Authority, but with Israel retaining control of the Gaza Strip’s airspace, some land borders and its territorial waters. The intent was to further this agreement, but discussions between the parties broke down. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

47 Roman goddess of the dawn : AURORA

Aurora was the Roman goddess of the dawn, and was equivalent to the Greek goddess Eos. According to myth, Aurora renewed herself each and every morning and then flew across the sky to announce the rising of the sun.

50 Choreographer Ailey : ALVIN

Alvin Ailey was a dancer who formed his own troupe in New York in 1958, naming it “the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater”. The most famous work that Ailey choreographed was called “Revelations”. President Barack Obama awarded Ailey the Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously in 2014.

55 Places to hold discussions : FORA

The Latin “forum” (plural “fora”) translates as “marketplace, town square”. “The Roman Forum” is the most famous example of such a space. The Forum at the heart of the city of Rome is surrounded by the ruins of several ancient government buildings, and has been referred to as the most celebrated meeting place in the world.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Swedish group that once comprised two married couples : ABBA
5 With skill : ABLY
9 Opening to be filled : GAP
12 Sagan who hosted TV’s “Cosmos” : CARL
13 Like calamari … or overloaded circuitry : FRIED
15 Catches, as a crook : NABS
16 Game with Mrs. White and Professor Plum : CLUE
17 Kendrick with 13 Grammys and a Pulitzer Prize : LAMAR
18 “The Little Rascals” assent : OTAY
19 Model/TV host on a record five Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers : ELLE MACPHERSON
22 Envision : SEE
23 Top card : ACE
24 Skeeves (out) : WEIRDS
26 Spirited horse : STEED
28 “Grey’s Anatomy” actress : SANDRA OH
30 Snitch (on) : RAT
32 Rink surface : ICE
33 It has a double helix : DNA
34 “Full Frontal” host : SAMANTHA BEE
38 Dem.’s counterpart : REP
40 Prefix with -phyte or -lithic : NEO-
41 Down Under hopper, informally : ROO
42 North Carolina senator who unseated Elizabeth Dole : KAY HAGAN
45 Kind of tea from India : ASSAM
49 Highly decorative : ORNATE
50 Parts of the body that are “crunched” : ABS
52 Blue, e.g. … or a rhyme for “blue” : HUE
53 Female scholars … or a hint to 19-, 28-, 34- and 42-Across : WOMEN OF LETTERS
57 Cher or Adele : DIVA
58 Storehouse of valuables : TROVE
59 “Pick me, pick me!” : OH, OH!
60 Like, for-EV-er : AGES
61 See 64-Across : … SERIF
62 ___ mortals : MERE
63 Fashion monogram : YSL
64 With 61-Across, like some typefaces : SANS …
65 Small wire nail : BRAD

Down

1 Means of entering : ACCESS
2 “Swan Lake,” for one : BALLET
3 Crème ___ (dessert) : BRULEE
4 Downwind, at sea : ALEE
5 Company with a spokesduck : AFLAC
6 Aid for a twisted knee or ankle : BRACE
7 Result of a twisted ankle : LIMP
8 Opposite of nah : YEAH
9 Beverage with a lightning bolt in its logo : GATORADE
10 Leave in the lurch : ABANDON
11 “Gangnam Style” rapper : PSY
14 Got close : DREW NEAR
15 Negative reply to a general : NO, SIR
20 ___ President : MADAM
21 G.O.P. color on an election map : RED
25 ___ Na Na : SHA
27 1970s measure that fell three states short of passing, in brief : ERA
28 Not publish yet, as a scoop : SIT ON
29 German’s “Alas!” : ACH!
31 Completely different lines of thought : TANGENTS
34 Typical John le Carré work : SPY NOVEL
35 Unionized teachers’ grp. : NEA
36 Brag : BOAST
37 Greek goddess of the dawn : EOS
38 Studio behind “It’s a Wonderful Life” : RKO
39 Pincered insects : EARWIGS
43 Gaza Strip governing group : HAMAS
44 Devoured : ATE
46 Common pronoun pairing : SHE/HER
47 Roman goddess of the dawn : AURORA
48 Intertwined : MESHED
50 Choreographer Ailey : ALVIN
51 Fortifies, with “up” : BEEFS …
54 Metal deposits : ORES
55 Places to hold discussions : FORA
56 Dead zone? : TOMB
57 Temp’s work unit : DAY

10 thoughts on “1214-20 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 20, Monday”

  1. 6:19, no errors, no complaints except that I haven’t gotten enough sleep the last couple of days (but I’m about to fix that problem 😜).

  2. 6:58. Forgot to post this morning. It’s Monday. Maybe I didn’t want to admit it.

    Knew all the theme people, surprisingly. I did see SANDRA OH in “Sideways”. I thought all 4 of the main characters were great in that movie. I don’t love many movies, but I did love that one.

    What a bizarre way for KAY HAGAN to pass away. Yikes.

    Best –

  3. Bit of a challenge for a monday..
    I don’t remember ELLE MCPHERSON and I didn’t know KAY HAGAN..

    EARWIGS gave me a bit of a fit but all ended up okay.. anyone rember the episode of Star Trek when those earwigs were put in the ears of the crewman?? That made me squirm..

  4. 22:29 no errors…a bit much for a Monday IMO…never heard of SKEEVES OUT and neither did the spell checker on this IPad .
    Stay safe.😀
    No more go Ravens til next year😥

  5. 9:58, no errors. Ten minutes seems like an excessive amount of time for a Monday. Vaguely recall ELLE MACPHERSON, but initially wrote in her name without the A. A lot of erasing there, when it didn’t fit. Have heard the names SANDRA OH and SAMANTHA BEE, but unfamiliar with the women connected to them. KAY HAGAN = total unknown.

  6. No errors. A little difficult for a Monday, I thought. 24-Across, “Skeeves (out)”, was new to me. However, I looked it up in a dictionary and came to really like the word. It’s etymology is from Italian and it came into English as being used by Italian-Americans in the 1950’s in the New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey areas. As a youth way out in Oklahoma in the 1950’s, it is no wonder that the word would never have traveled that far. It is nice to learn of it.

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