1217-20 NY Times Crossword 17 Dec 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Kathryn Ladner
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal “Answer”: G – G – G – E-flat

Themed answers each refer to BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH Symphony, with the celebrated opening notes circled in the grid:

  • 36A Work suggested by this puzzle’s circled and shaded squares : BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH
  • 2D Key to this puzzle’s theme? : C MINOR
  • 7D Instrument featured in 36-Across : OBOE
  • 29D What the opening motif of 36-Across is said to represent : FATE
  • 49D First name of this puzzle’s dedicatee, born December 1770 : LUDWIG
  • 56D What 49-Down became in later life : DEAF

Bill’s time: 9m 15s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Language in which a nutty person might be told “Yer bum’s oot the windae” : SCOTS

Scots is a variant of English that is commonly spoken in Lowland Scotland. Scots is very different from Scottish Gaelic, a variant of the Celtic language that is more likely to be encountered in the Scottish Highlands. Much of the work of poet Robert Burns was written in Scots.

10 Hunting store purchase : AMMO

The word “munitions” describes materials and equipment used in war. The term derives from the Latin “munitionem” meaning “fortification, defensive wall”. Back in the 17th century, French soldiers referred to such materials as “la munition”, a Middle French term. This was misheard as “l’ammunition”, and as a result we ended up importing the word “ammunition” (often shortened to “ammo”), a term that we now use mainly to describe the material fired from a weapon.

14 Hook’s henchman : SMEE

In J. M. Barrie’s play and novel about Peter Pan, Smee is one of Captain Hook’s pirates and is Hook’s bosun and right-hand man. Smee is described by Barrie as being “Irish” and “a man who stabbed without offence”. Nice guy! Captain Hook and Smee sail on a pirate ship called the Jolly Roger.

18 Items that are hard to throw away? : BOOMERANGS

The complete etymology of the word “boomerang” is a little unclear, but it definitely comes from the aboriginal name for a “returning throw-stick”. We tend to be impressed by the fact boomerangs, when thrown correctly, return to the thrower. In fact, it is likely that the first returning boomerangs were developed by accident, when thousands of years ago hunters were trying to change the shape of their weapons, in order to make them fly straight!

22 Troublemaker of 1-Down : LOKI
(1 Mythical realm accessible only by the rainbow bridge Bifrost : ASGARD)

Loki is a god appearing in Norse mythology. In one story about Loki, he was punished by other gods for having caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and beauty. Loki is bound to a sharp rock using the entrails of one of his sons. A serpent drips venom which is collected in a bowl, and then his wife must empty the venom onto Loki when the bowl is full. The venom causes Loki great pain, and his writhing results in what we poor mortals experience as earthquakes.

23 Important piece in échecs : ROI

In French, the “roi” (king) is the most important piece in the game of “échecs” (chess).

24 Money-collecting org. : IRS

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.

25 Word included to prevent libel, say : ALLEGED

The word “libel” describes a published or written statement likely to harm a person’s reputation. It comes into English from the Latin “libellus”, the word for a small book. Back in the 1500s, libel was just a formal written statement, with the more damaging association arising in the 1600s. The related concept of slander is defamation in a transient form, such as speech, sign language or gestures.

30 Ballet basic : PLIE

The French word for “bent” is “plié”. In the ballet move known as a plié, the knees are bent. A “demi-plié” is a similar move, but with less bending of the knees.

31 Losing tic-tac-toe row : O-X-O

When I was growing up in Ireland we played “noughts and crosses” … our name for the game tic-tac-toe.

34 Singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE

Corinne Bailey Rae is a British singer from Yorkshire in northern England.

36 Work suggested by this puzzle’s circled and shaded squares : BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH

Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” has one of the most recognizable openings in the whole of the classical repertoire, and comprises just four simpel notes. The work is sometimes referred to as the “Fate Symphony”, with that opening motif representing Fate knocking at the door.

43 One of the Kennedys : TED

Ted Kennedy was the youngest boy in a family that included older brothers Joseph Jr. (killed in action in WWII), John (assassinated) and Robert (assassinated). Ted went into the US Senate in 1962 in a special election held after his brother became US President. He remained in the Senate until he passed away in 2009, making Ted Kennedy the fourth-longest-serving Senator in history. The 2017 movie “Chappaquiddick” gives some insight, albeit somewhat speculative, about the darker side of Ted Kennedy’s life. It focuses on the events surrounding the infamous Chappaquiddick incident in which Kennedy drove off a bridge, resulting in the death of his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne.

50 America ___, star of TV’s “Ugly Betty” : FERRERA

“Ugly Betty” is a drama-comedy show that originally aired on television from 2006 to 2010. The show is based on a telenovela soap opera from Colombia called “Yo soy Betty, la fea”. The title role of Betty Suarez is played by America Ferrera.

52 Extinct flightless bird : MOA

Moas were flightless birds native to New Zealand that are now extinct. The fate of the Moa is a great example of the detrimental effect that humans can have on animal populations. The Maoris arrived in New Zealand about 1300 AD, upsetting the balance of the ecosystem. The Moa were hunted to extinction within 200 years, which had the knock-on effect of killing off the Haast’s Eagle, the Moa’s only predator prior to the arrival of man. Moa were huge creatures, measuring up to 12 feet tall with their necks stretched upwards.

54 Lead-in to puncture : ACU-

Acupressure and acupuncture are related alternative medical techniques. Both aim to clear blockages in the flow of life energy through the body’s meridians. The treatment is given by stimulating “acupoints” in the body, by applying pressure in the case of acupressure, and by applying needles in the case of acupuncture.

55 Actress Chaplin : OONA

Oona Chaplin is an actress from Madrid in Spain. Chaplin is getting a lot of airtime these days as she plays Talisa Maegyr on HBO’s hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones”. Oona is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, and is named for her maternal grandmother Oona O’Neill, the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill.

58 That’s gnus to me! : WILDEBEEST

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

66 Small and pointy-eared, perhaps : ELFIN

Something “elfin” or “fay” is like an elf or a fairy.

Down

1 Mythical realm accessible only by the rainbow bridge Bifrost : ASGARD

Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds of Norse religions. It is where the Norse gods live, and is also home to Valhalla, the enormous hall ruled over by the god Odin.

3 Greek goddess of the hearth : HESTIA

Hestia was the virgin goddess of the hearth and home to ancient Greeks. She was a daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and a sibling of Zeus.

4 Sight on Disney World’s Expedition Everest ride : YETI

The yeti, also known as the abominable snowman, is a beast of legend. “Yeti” is a Tibetan term, and the beast is fabled to live in the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. Our equivalent legend in North America is that of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch. The study of animals whose existence have not yet been substantiated is called cryptozoology, and a cryptid is a creature or plant that isn’t recognized by the scientific community, but the existence of which has been suggested.

8 Rum ___ Tugger (“Cats” cat) : TUM

Rum Tum Tugger is one of the characters in T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. Rum Tum Tugger also appears in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats”, the musical based on Eliot’s book. In the musical, Rum Tum Tugger’s persona was written as a homage to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. So, the character tends to strut around the stage a lot.

11 Puttering around? : MINIGOLF

Apparently, the first minigolf course in the world was built in St. Andrews in Scotland, and you can still play that course today. Back in 1867, about 100 years after the Royal and Ancient Golf Club was founded, the Ladies’ Putting Club was constructed by some of the golf clubs members so that the ladies could “have a go” at the sport. Back then it was believed that the energetic swing required to hit a ball on a full-size course was far from ladylike, so a small, 18-hole course of putting greens was deemed to be more acceptable. Different times …

12 Flavor enhancer : MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of a naturally-occurring,non-essential amino acid called glutamic acid. It is used widely as a flavor enhancer, particularly in many Asian cuisines. Whether or not it is harmful seems to be still under debate. I say that something produced in a test tube shouldn’t be in our food …

25 ___ Freed, early radio personality who coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” : ALAN

Alan Freed was an early disk-jockey, who was known by the nickname “Moondog”. The nickname came from his use of an R&B record called “Moondog” as his theme song, in the days when he broadcast late into the night. Based in the US, Freed also recorded radio shows for broadcast in Europe. He earned quite a reputation promoting African-American rhythm and blues music, and ultimately rock and roll. However, Freed’s career came to an abrupt end when it was proven that he was at the receiving end of “payola” payments, profiting from promotion of specific records on his shows.

30 Response to “Grazie!” : PREGO!

“Prego” literally means “I pray” in Italian, but it is usually translated into English as “you’re welcome” when it is used in response to a “thank you” (“grazie”, in Italian).

33 Epithet for a judge : HONORABLE

An epithet is a word or phrase used in a name to describe the quality of the person or thing bearing that name. For example, King Richard I was also known as Richard the Lionheart. The term “epithet” can also describe a word that is disparaging or abusive.

35 Lover of Radames, in opera : AIDA

“Aida” is a celebrated opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then complications arise!

37 Tribe that fought the Iroquois : ERIE

The Erie people lived on lands south of Lake Erie, in parts of the modern-day US states of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Erie were sometimes referred to as the Cat Nation, a reference to the mountain lions that were ever-present in the area that they lived. The name “Erie” is a shortened form of “Erielhonan” meaning “long tail”, possibly a further reference to the mountain lion or cat, which was possibly used as a totem. The Erie people gave their name to the Great Lake.

39 Summer Triangle star : VEGA

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. Vega (along with Altair and Deneb from other constellations) is also part of the group of three stars that is called the Summer Triangle. Vega is the star at the right-angle of this triangle.

40 ___ position : FETAL

The word “fetus”, used for an unborn young animal, comes from Latin as one might expect. “Fetus” is the Latin word for the act of hatching or bringing forth a young animal or child. The mistaken spelling “foetus” is seen occasionally, but there’s no historical basis for adding that “o”.

47 Oscar winner Marlee : MATLIN

Marlee Matlin won her well-deserved Oscar for the role she played in “Children of a Lesser God”. Matlin played opposite William Hurt in the movie, and won her Academy Award in 1986 when she was just 21 years old. My favorite performance of hers though, was the recurring role she had in “The West Wing”.

48 Cooling-off period? : ICE AGE

Ice ages are periods in the Earth’s history when there are extensive ice sheets present in the northern and southern hemispheres. One might argue that we are still in an ice age that began 2.6 million years ago, as evidenced by the presence of ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.

49 First name of this puzzle’s dedicatee, born December 1770 : LUDWIG

Ludwig van Beethoven is my favorite composer from the Classical period. There are two excellent films that showcase his music and give fictionalized yet entertaining accounts of different aspects of his life: “Immortal Beloved” (1994) that speculates on the identity of one of Beethoven’s lovers, and “Copying Beethoven” (2006) that explores the events leading up to the triumphant premiere of his 9th Symphony.

51 Copland ballet with a hoedown : RODEO

“Rodeo” is a ballet with a score by Aaron Copland that was originally choreographed by Agnes de Mille. First performed in 1942, “Rodeo” is one of the earliest examples of a truly American classical ballet.

52 Longtime star of F.C. Barcelona : MESSI

Lionel “Leo” Messi is a soccer player from Argentina. Messi was awarded FIFA’s Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) award from 2009 to 2013. The Ballon d’Or is presented to the player who is considered the best in the world in the prior year.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Needing some kneading, say : ACHY
5 Language in which a nutty person might be told “Yer bum’s oot the windae” : SCOTS
10 Hunting store purchase : AMMO
14 Hook’s henchman : SMEE
15 Stamp holder : ALBUM
16 Birthday ___ : WISH
17 Basic idea : GIST
18 Items that are hard to throw away? : BOOMERANGS
20 Remedy : ANTIDOTE
22 Troublemaker of 1-Down : LOKI
23 Important piece in échecs : ROI
24 Money-collecting org. : IRS
25 Word included to prevent libel, say : ALLEGED
28 Rough write-up : DRAFT
30 Ballet basic : PLIE
31 Losing tic-tac-toe row : O-X-O
32 Cry of dismay in 5-Across : ACH!
34 Singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey ___ : RAE
35 Landed : ALIT
36 Work suggested by this puzzle’s circled and shaded squares : BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH
41 Strongly advocate : URGE
42 -: Abbr. : NEG
43 One of the Kennedys : TED
44 Pudding flavor : FIG
45 Big name in in-flight internet : GOGO
46 ___ Nadu (Indian state) : TAMIL
50 America ___, star of TV’s “Ugly Betty” : FERRERA
52 Extinct flightless bird : MOA
54 Lead-in to puncture : ACU-
55 Actress Chaplin : OONA
56 Like an unused air mattress : DEFLATED
58 That’s gnus to me! : WILDEBEEST
61 Shortcoming : FLAW
62 Word before rich or talk : IDLE …
63 Rent : LEASE
64 Swiss Alp next to Lake Lucerne : RIGI
65 Just OK : SO-SO
66 Small and pointy-eared, perhaps : ELFIN
67 What “exaggerated” is sometimes misspelled with : ONE G

Down

1 Mythical realm accessible only by the rainbow bridge Bifrost : ASGARD
2 Key to this puzzle’s theme? : C MINOR
3 Greek goddess of the hearth : HESTIA
4 Sight on Disney World’s Expedition Everest ride : YETI
5 Flavor: Sp. : SABOR
6 Sticks together : CLOTS
7 Instrument featured in 36-Across : OBOE
8 Rum ___ Tugger (“Cats” cat) : TUM
9 Most foul : SMELLIEST
10 Up : AWAKE
11 Puttering around? : MINIGOLF
12 Flavor enhancer : MSG
13 Exclamations of surprise : OHS
19 Credit line? : ROLE
21 Leave behind : DITCH
25 ___ Freed, early radio personality who coined the term “rock ‘n’ roll” : ALAN
26 It takes people out : EXIT
27 Biblical verb : DOTH
29 What the opening motif of 36-Across is said to represent : FATE
30 Response to “Grazie!” : PREGO!
33 Epithet for a judge : HONORABLE
35 Lover of Radames, in opera : AIDA
36 Muscly : BUFF
37 Tribe that fought the Iroquois : ERIE
38 Servings with sweet-and-sour sauce : EGG ROLLS
39 Summer Triangle star : VEGA
40 ___ position : FETAL
45 Something editable using CRISPR technology : GENE
47 Oscar winner Marlee : MATLIN
48 Cooling-off period? : ICE AGE
49 First name of this puzzle’s dedicatee, born December 1770 : LUDWIG
51 Copland ballet with a hoedown : RODEO
52 Longtime star of F.C. Barcelona : MESSI
53 A lot : OFTEN
56 What 49-Down became in later life : DEAF
57 Prefix with Cuban : AFRO-
58 Ill. neighbor : WIS
59 Formal “yes” : I DO
60 Reef predator : EEL

12 thoughts on “1217-20 NY Times Crossword 17 Dec 20, Thursday”

  1. 14:33 after correcting various fumble-fingerings, including an alphabet run to get the “I” at the intersection of “MATLIN” and “RIGI”, both of which were unknown to me. And then I forgot to check out the theme. Not one of my cleaner solves … 😳.

    I think I need some time away from all this. A Caribbean trip, maybe? A few days in Nordkapp? Maybe further afield … can I book a trip to Mars? … 😳.

  2. 21:37. My Fat finger was at RIGI. I typed in AFRO…but my finger typed AFFO. It took a while to find it since it was at the bottom of the puzzle.

  3. 17:04. I was thinking this was more of an excellent Wednesday puzzle because the theme wasn’t quite Thursday level trickery.

    Then I read the following with regard to the theme answers, shaded areas, circles and their placement in today’s Wordplay. Pretty impressive construction once you factor this in. I cut and pasted this from the setter herself- a musician from the Houston Symphony Orchestra:

    I wanted the placement of the “notes” to make sense musically as well. If you draw a line through the rows starting at 20-, 28-, 36-, 44- and 55-across, you’ll create a 5-line musical staff with the notes falling on the correct line (in treble clef) — transforming the puzzle into a piece of sheet music.

    Best –

  4. I gave myself a bad start by resigning to the fact that after I solved BEETHOVEN I knew nothing about the theme. So I guessed my way through and failed miserably. Make matters worse , I didn’t know GRAZIE was the Italian word for thank you , didn’t know in-flight internet was GOGO…
    Then I read Bills blog and then read @jeff answer and realized I not only knew the answers but now appreciate what she constructed.
    You don’t have to know music to get the G G G E FLAT combo you’ve heard so many times.. my AHA moment came after I read it here..

  5. Nice, involving puzzle. No errors but needed a couple of lucky/logical
    letter guesses to complete. Can’t say as I can place the oboe in Beethoven’s 5th.

  6. 41:45 no errors despite the highbrow opera clues and the foreign ones as well…some crossing help and some luck finished this one…not my cup of tea
    Stay safe.😀
    Good luck to the new administration 🙏

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