1216-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Dec 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Ed Salners & Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Government Bonds

Themed answers each include a GOVERNMENT agency in initialism form as a hidden word, one that “BONDS” (joins) the two words in the answer:

  • 59A Treasury notes … or what the two sides of 17-, 23-, 37- and 52-Across are joined with? : GOVERNMENT BONDS
  • 17A Place to land that’s not on land : AIRCRAFT CARRIER (hiding “FTC”)
  • 23A 2002 musical that won eight Tonys : HAIRSPRAY (hiding “IRS”)
  • 37A Very picture of idleness? : SCREENSAVER (hiding “NSA”)
  • 52A Felix of “The Odd Couple,” for one : NEAT FREAK (hiding “ATF”)

Bill’s time: 9m 13s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Dreidels, e.g. : TOPS

A dreidel is a spinning top with four sides that is often associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Each of the four sides on a dreidel bears a letter from the Hebrew alphabet (nun, gimel, hei and shin). The four letters are the initials of the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Hayah Sham” meaning “a great miracle happened there”. According to tradition, children would be taught Torah while hiding in caves away from the Greeks. When Greek soldiers approached, the children would hide their torah scrolls and play with their dreidels instead.

5 Little bit : SKOSH

“Skosh” is a slang term meaning “a little bit”, and was originally military slang that came out of the Korean War. “Skosh” derives from the Japanese word “sukoshi” which translates as “few, little, some”.

10 Fancy-schmancy : POSH

No one really knows the etymology of the word “posh”. The popular myth that “posh” is actually an acronym standing for “port out, starboard home” is completely untrue, and is a story that can actually be traced back to the 1968 movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The myth is that wealthy British passengers travelling to and from India would book cabins on the port side for the outward journey and the starboard side for the home journey. This trick was supposedly designed to keep their cabins out of the direct sunlight.

14 Mother of Zeus : RHEA

In Greek mythology, Rhea was one of the Titans. She was the sister and husband of Cronus, and together they had six children, the last of which was Zeus. Cronus swallowed all of his children as soon as they were born, except for Zeus, who Rhea managed to hide from her husband.

15 Home with a smoke flap : TEPEE

A tepee (also written as “tipi” and “teepee”) is a cone-shaped tent traditionally made from animal hides that is used by the Great Plains Native Americans. A wigwam is a completely different structure and is often a misnomer for a tepee. A wigwam is a domed structure built by Native Americans in the West and Southwest, intended to be a more permanent dwelling. The wigwam can also be covered with hides but more often was covered with grass, reeds, brush or cloth.

17 Place to land that’s not on land : AIRCRAFT CARRIER (hiding “FTC”)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was established in 1914 with the mission of protecting consumers.

20 Nasdaq listings: Abbr. : COS

Company (co.)

The National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) no longer exists per se. Since 2007, it’s functions are carried out by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). These functions include regulation of trading in equities, bonds, futures and options. In 1971, the NASD set up a new computerized trading system called the NASD Automated Quotations stock market, a system we know better by the acronym NASDAQ.

21 “___ the only one?” : AM I

No …

23 2002 musical that won eight Tonys : HAIRSPRAY (hiding “IRS”)

“Hairspray” is a 1988 musical comedy movie written and directed by the zany John Waters. The film had a lukewarm reception when it opened, but it spawned an extremely successful franchise. A Broadway musical of the same name opened in 2002, which won the Best Musical Tony Award in 2003. The film was remade in 2007.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

28 Gaelic language : ERSE

There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be “Gaeilge” (in Ireland), “Gaelg” (on the Isle of Man) and “Gaidhlig” (in Scotland).

31 The Bronx Bombers, briefly : NYY

The New York Yankees (NYY) baseball team has the nickname “the Bronx Bombers”. The nickname reflects where the team plays (the Bronx) and the team’s reputation for hitting (bombers). The Yankees were the first team to retire a uniform number, doing so on July 4, 1939. That day they retired the number 4 in honor of Lou Gehrig.

37 Very picture of idleness? : SCREENSAVER (hiding “NSA”)

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

40 Father of ___ (epithet for Toussaint L’Ouverture) : HAITI

The Republic of Haiti occupies the smaller, western portion of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The rest of the island is taken up by the Dominican Republic. Haiti is one of only two nations in the Americas to have French as an official language, the other being Canada.

Toussaint Breda (later “Louverture”) was a central leader in the Haitian Revolution that lasted from 1791 until 1804. Louverture was a freed slave, and he joined the slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue that ultimately led to the founding of the free state of Haiti.

44 Canine breeders’ org. : AKC

The American Kennel Club (AKC) is the organization that handles registration of purebred dogs The AKC also promotes dog shows around the country, including the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

47 Plastic-like clogs : CROCS

Crocs are foam clogs that were originally designed as shoes to be worn at health spas.

Clogs are shoes made from wood, at least in part. The clog originated as a protective item of footwear for use by farm, factory and mine workers.

50 Pfizer competitor : MERCK

Merck & Co., Inc. is a US company, once a subsidiary of the German company known today as Merck KGaA. The US subsidiary of the German firm was confiscated in 1917 during WWI, and set up as an independent company that grew into the giant that it is today.

Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company based in New York City that was founded in 1849 by cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart. Pfizer has an impressive list of successful products that includes Lipitor (to lower cholesterol), Viagra (to help with erectile dysfunction) and Celebrex (an anti-inflammatory).

52 Felix of “The Odd Couple,” for one : NEAT FREAK (hiding “ATF”)

“The Odd Couple” is a play by the wonderfully talented Neil Simon that was first performed on Broadway, in 1965. This great play was adapted for the big screen in 1968, famously starring Jack Lemmon (as Felix Unger) and Walter Matthau (as Oscar Madison). The success of the play and the film gave rise to an excellent television sitcom that ran from 1970-1975, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1985, Neil Simon even went so far as to adapt the play for an all-female cast, renaming it “The Female Odd Couple”. I’d like to see that one …

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today is part of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The ATF has its roots in the Department of Treasury dating back to 1886 when it was known as the Bureau of Prohibition. “Explosives” was added to the ATF’s name when the bureau was moved under the Department of Justice (DOJ) as part of the reorganization called for in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

57 Shakespeare’s “Richard ___” : III

“Richard III” is one of the more famous of William Shakespeare’s historical plays. A well-known 1955 version of the play was made for the big screen with Laurence Olivier playing the title role. The most oft-quoted words from “Richard III” are probably the opening lines “Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this sun of York”, and Richard’s plea at the climax of battle “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!”

59 Treasury notes … or what the two sides of 17-, 23-, 37- and 52-Across are joined with? : GOVERNMENT BONDS

A Treasury note (T-note) is a government debt that matures in 1-10 years. A T-note has a coupon (interest) payment made every six months. The T-note is purchased at a discount to face value, and at the date of maturity can be redeemed at that face value. A Treasury bill (T-bill) is a similar financial vehicle, but it matures in one year or less, and a T-bond matures in 20-30 years.

63 Help with a heist : ABET

The word “abet” comes into English from the Old French “abeter” meaning “to bait” or “to harass with dogs” (literally “to make bite”). This sense of encouraging something bad to happen morphed into our modern usage of “abet” meaning to aid or encourage someone in a crime.

65 Beyond regulation, briefly : IN OT

In overtime (in OT)

66 Kind of wave : SINE

A sine wave is a mathematical function that describes a simple, smooth, repetitive oscillation. The sine wave is found right throughout the natural world. Ocean waves, light waves and sound waves all have a sine wave pattern.

68 Toy celebrated at Brickworld conventions : LEGO

Lego produces some wonderful specialized sets with which you can build models of celebrated structures, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty (2,882 pieces)
  • The Sydney Opera House (2,989 pieces)
  • The Eiffel Tower (3,428 pieces)
  • Tower Bridge (4,295 pieces)
  • The Taj Mahal (5,922 pieces)

Down

1 Windpipe : TRACHEA

The windpipe (also “trachea”) connects the lungs to the pharynx, the cavity of the mouth. The trachea is lined with special cells that secrete mucus which is then moved upwards by tiny hairs (cilia). The mucus traps dirt and dust particles inhaled with the air and cilia move the mucus contaminant away from the lungs’ delicate air sacs, into the mouth. Cigarette smoke overwhelms the mucus and cilia, so that smoke particles make it all the way into the lungs. Not a good thing …

2 Toy company that made Etch A Sketch a success : OHIO ART

Etch A Sketch was introduced in 1960. The toy was developed in France by inventor André Cassagnes.

5 Part of a philatelist’s collection : STAMP

Philately is the practice of collecting postage stamps. The term “philately” was coined (in French, as “philatélie) in 1864 by French collector Georges Herpin. He came up with it from the Greek “phil-” meaning “loving” and “ateleia” meaning “exemption from tax”. Apparently “exemption from tax” was the closest thing Herpin could find to “postage stamp”.

6 Fermented milk drinks : KEFIRS

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated in the Caucasus region of Eurasia.

11 With 45-Down, Luke Skywalker’s mentor : OBI-WAN …
45D See 11-Down : … KENOBI

Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the more beloved of the “Star Wars” characters. Kenobi was portrayed by two fabulous actors in the series of films. As a young man he is played by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and as an older man he is played by Alec Guinness.

12 Dopey co-worker : SLEEPY

In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale called “Snow White”, the seven dwarfs were not given any names. The names were added for the 1937 classic Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The seven dwarfs are:

  • Doc (the leader of the group)
  • Grumpy (that would be me, according to my wife …)
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Bashful
  • Sneezy
  • Dopey

13 Martin Luther’s crime : HERESY

Martin Luther wrote his “95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of the Indulgences” in 1517, creating a document that is often seen as setting off the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s main argument was that the Catholic Church’s practice of granting “indulgences”, forgiveness from punishment for sins, was wrong. It was especially wrong when such indulgences were granted in exchange for money.

18 Dorm monitors, for short : RAS

A resident assistant/adviser (RA) is a peer leader found in a residence hall, particularly on a college campus.

36 “Reading Rainbow” host Burton : LEVAR

Actor LeVar Burton is very much associated with two iconic roles on television, i.e. young Kunta Kinte in “Roots” and Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. Burton also hosted the children’s PBS show “Reading Rainbow” for many years. His portrayal of Kunta Kinte in 1977 was Burton’s first acting job. Indeed, Burton’s audition for the part was the first in his professional career!

“Reading Rainbow” is an award-winning children’s television series that aired on Public Television from 1983 to 2006. The mission of the show was to encourage children to read. “Reading Rainbow” was hosted by the actor LeVar Burton (from “Roots” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation”).

38 School founded by Henry VI : ETON

Eton College near Windsor in the south of England was founded way back in 1440 by King Henry VI. Originally known as “The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor”, the school was intended to provide free education to poor boys. Free education today at Eton? Not so much …

King Henry VI of England succeeded to the throne when he was just nine months old, making him the youngest monarch ever to sit on the English throne.

39 Hit TV show rebranded as “The Conners” in 2018 : ROSEANNE

“The Conners” is a spin-off sitcom of the hit TV show “Roseanne”. The spin-off came about after the cancellation of the “Roseanne” reboot in 2018, following a tweet by Roseanne Barr that was viewed as racist. The spin-off show features the main cast from “Roseanne”, but drops the title character Roseanne Conner.

42 Iditarod pace setter : LEAD DOG

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race covers an incredible 1,161 miles, from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska. The race starts every year on the first Saturday in March, with the first race having been held in 1973. Finishing times range from over 8 days to 15 days or more. The first few races only used a northern route, but then a southern route was added to the roster every second year. It’s kind of a good thing, because when the racers take the northern route they don’t even pass through the town of Iditarod!

48 New Orleans team : SAINTS

The New Orleans Saints football team takes its name from the jazz song “When the Saints Go Marching In”, a tune that is very much associated with the city. The team was founded in 1967, on November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day in the Roman Catholic tradition.

51 Home of the Minoan civilization : CRETE

The Minoans were a Bronze Age people that lived on the island of Crete from about 270 to 1450 BCE. Evidence of the Minoan civilization was uncovered by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans at the beginning of the 20th century. Evans coined the term “Minoan” after King Minos of myth, who was said to have built a Labyrinth on the island that housed the Minotaur.

53 Give 10% : TITHE

Traditionally, a tithe is a payment of one tenth of a person’s annual income and is usually given to a church. Tithing is a practice taught in many traditions, and according to a 2002 survey, about 3% of American adults donate 10% or more of their income to a church.

56 Parts of black widow spiders’ diets : ANTS

“Widow spider” is a common name given to several species of spider in the genus Latrodectus. The name comes from the reported behavior of the female eating the male after the pair have mated. The female wins the battle with the male largely because the female’s venom is three-times as potent as that of the male. The most notorious widow spider is the “black widow”. The female black widow’s venom glands are unusually large and the bite can be quite harmful to humans.

60 One of the Three Stooges : MOE

If you’ve seen a few of the films starring “The Three Stooges” you might have noticed that the line-up changed over the years. The original trio was made up of Moe and Shemp Howard (two brothers) and Larry Fine (a good friend of the Howards). This line up was usually known as “Moe, Larry and Shemp”. Then Curly Howard replaced his brother when Shemp quit the act, creating the most famous trio, “Moe, Larry And Curly”. Shemp returned when Curly had a debilitating stroke in 1946. Shemp stayed with the troupe until he himself died in 1955. Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser, and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita. When Larry Fine suffered a stroke in 1970, it effectively marked the end of the act.

62 Need for making latkes : OIL

A latke is a delicious potato pancake (I’m Irish, so anything made with potato is delicious!).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Dreidels, e.g. : TOPS
5 Little bit : SKOSH
10 Fancy-schmancy : POSH
14 Mother of Zeus : RHEA
15 Home with a smoke flap : TEPEE
16 Up to it : ABLE
17 Place to land that’s not on land : AIRCRAFT CARRIER (hiding “FTC”)
20 Nasdaq listings: Abbr. : COS
21 “___ the only one?” : AM I
22 Amateur sports level : PEEWEE
23 2002 musical that won eight Tonys : HAIRSPRAY (hiding “IRS”)
27 Quick pics : SNAPS
28 Gaelic language : ERSE
29 Deli counter device : SCALE
31 The Bronx Bombers, briefly : NYY
32 Include on an email : ATTACH
35 Spin : TWIRL
37 Very picture of idleness? : SCREENSAVER (hiding “NSA”)
40 Father of ___ (epithet for Toussaint L’Ouverture) : HAITI
41 Rise up : REVOLT
44 Canine breeders’ org. : AKC
47 Plastic-like clogs : CROCS
49 Offshore : ASEA
50 Pfizer competitor : MERCK
52 Felix of “The Odd Couple,” for one : NEAT FREAK (hiding “ATF”)
55 How Russia ranks first among all countries : IN AREA
57 Shakespeare’s “Richard ___” : III
58 Suffix with lemon or lime : -ADE
59 Treasury notes … or what the two sides of 17-, 23-, 37- and 52-Across are joined with? : GOVERNMENT BONDS
63 Help with a heist : ABET
64 Something you grin and bare? : TOOTH
65 Beyond regulation, briefly : IN OT
66 Kind of wave : SINE
67 Pick up : SENSE
68 Toy celebrated at Brickworld conventions : LEGO

Down

1 Windpipe : TRACHEA
2 Toy company that made Etch A Sketch a success : OHIO ART
3 Fights through adversity : PERSISTS
4 Pouch : SAC
5 Part of a philatelist’s collection : STAMP
6 Fermented milk drinks : KEFIRS
7 Elect (to) : OPT
8 Brief moment : SEC
9 Disorganized pile : HEAP
10 ), briefly : PAREN
11 With 45-Down, Luke Skywalker’s mentor : OBI-WAN …
12 Dopey co-worker : SLEEPY
13 Martin Luther’s crime : HERESY
18 Dorm monitors, for short : RAS
19 Wildlife sanctuary : RESERVE
24 Get through to : REACH
25 Show decorum : ACT NICE
26 Oscillates about a vertical axis : YAWS
30 Mythomaniac : LIAR
33 Cheese plate staple : CRACKER
34 Next in line : HEIR
36 “Reading Rainbow” host Burton : LEVAR
38 School founded by Henry VI : ETON
39 Hit TV show rebranded as “The Conners” in 2018 : ROSEANNE
42 Iditarod pace setter : LEAD DOG
43 Develops a liking for : TAKES TO
44 Female friends, in Spain : AMIGAS
45 See 11-Down : … KENOBI
46 Cowardly : CRAVEN
48 New Orleans team : SAINTS
51 Home of the Minoan civilization : CRETE
53 Give 10% : TITHE
54 Make stuff up : FIB
56 Parts of black widow spiders’ diets : ANTS
60 One of the Three Stooges : MOE
61 Long, long time : EON
62 Need for making latkes : OIL

11 thoughts on “1216-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Dec 20, Wednesday”

  1. 9:12 OMG!! I bested @Bill by a second! Thought that would NEVER happen on any day – even when he’s sick. I even had a few miscues to fix – TEETH vs. TOOTH; LIE vs FIB (I had not filled in 30D yet so I would have surmised it was not LIE); AMICAS vs AMIGAS; and KENOBE vs KENOBI.

    Not familiar with 6D – KEFIRS

  2. 7:37, no errors, no complaints, totally spaced the theme. After a string of long days filled with mental and physical challenges and an encounter with a Tim Croce puzzle that almost defeated me (3:28:14, no errors), all I really wanted to do last night was to finish this puzzle and go to bed … 🤪.

  3. So this is actually a little scary: I went back and reviewed my solve in the app (which preserves results) and it took me a minute or two to remember anything about it. (The first thing that came to me was that I briefly had TEETH before changing the E’s to O’s.) After five minutes, I remembered about 80% of the clues and entries. I then reviewed the other puzzles I did yesterday and found that I remembered them much better (especially that Croce, which I could almost duplicate from memory). Bizarre …

  4. 14:01, no errors. A little slow for me today. For some reason I just couldn’t get a good foothold at the beginning. Once I did it went pretty quickly, but alas, by then too much time had slipped by.

  5. 9:17. Missed Bill by 4 seconds and Ron by 5, but oh well. Maybe I fell into microsleep for 6 or 7 seconds?

    Solved like a themeless. I tend to tune out gov’t bureaucracies wherever I encounter them.

    I saw John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos”. That was enough John Waters material for one lifetime. The guy is off his rocker.

    Best –

  6. 12:13 no major issues other than having to guess the “k” in “skosh”, congratulations Ron! I’m only slightly envious 🙂

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