1218-20 NY Times Crossword 18 Dec 20, Friday

Constructed by: Damon Gulczynski
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 36s

Bill’s errors: 3

  • SABAN (Nabal)
  • SEAL (near)
  • NETS (lets!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Nick ___, football coach who led both L.S.U. and Alabama to national championships : SABAN

Nick Saban is a former NFL coach with the Miami Dolphins, and head football coach at the University of Alabama starting in 2007.

10 Look out for, say : ABET

14 Line outside the entrance? : OPEN SESAME!

In the folk tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, the title character is a poor woodcutter who discovers the magic phrase “Open sesame!” that opens the thieves’ den.

16 State flower of Utah : SEGO

The sego lily is the state flower of Utah, and is a perennial plant found throughout the Western United States.

19 The U.S. Open is played on it: Abbr. : EDT

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

20 Supermodel Wek : ALEK

Alek Wek is a supermodel originally from Southern Sudan. In her native language, Wek’s name translates as “Black Spotted Cow”, which is a symbol of good luck for the Dinka, her native people.

21 Caesar and others : SALADS

The caesar salad was created by restaurateur Caesar Cardini at the Hotel Caesar’s in Tijuana, Mexico. The original recipe called for whole lettuce leaves that were to be lifted up by the stem and eaten with the fingers.

22 + or -, for a battery : END

A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electric energy. A simple battery is made up of three parts: a cathode, an anode and a liquid electrolyte. Ions from the electrolyte react chemically with the material in the anode producing a compound and releasing electrons. At the same time, the electrolyte reacts with the material in the cathode, absorbing electrons and producing a different chemical compound. In this way, there is a buildup of electrons at the anode and a deficit of electrons at the cathode. When a connection (wire, say) is made between the cathode and anode, electrons flow through the resulting circuit from the anode to cathode in an attempt to rectify the electron imbalance.

24 Recipe abbr. : TSP

Teaspoon (tsp.)

26 Torque symbol : TAU

Torque can be thought of as a turning force, say the force needed to tighten a bolt or a nut. In physics, torque is represented by the Greek letter tau.

29 What Neptune’s chariot was drawn by : SEAHORSES

Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus. The genus name comes from the Greek “hippo” meaning “horse” and “kampos” meaning “sea monster”. It’s the male seahorse who carries the fertilized eggs, and not the females. The region of the brain known as the hippocampus, is so called because it resembles a seahorse in shape.

Neptune was a Roman god, of both the sea and of freshwater. He was sometimes known as “Neptunus Equester” as he was also the god of horses and patron of horse-racing.

33 Longtime CBS News host Charles : OSGOOD

Retired radio and television commentator Charles Osgood is from New York City. On the radio, Osgood is known for his daily show called “The Osgood Files”, and on television is known as the host for “CBS News Sunday Morning”, a role that he took over from Charles Kuralt.

36 PC program suffix : EXE

In the Windows operating system, a file with the extension .exe is an “executable” file.

37 Setting for forensic investigations : SCENE OF THE CRIME

Something described as forensic is connected with a court of law, or with public discussion or debate. The term comes from the Latin “forensis” meaning “of a forum, of a place of assembly”. We mainly use the word today to mean “pertaining to legal trials” as in “forensic medicine” and “forensic science”.

41 Bit of needle work : TAT

The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”. Tattoos are sometimes referred to as “ink”.

50 Like a hoppin’ party : LIT

“Plastered” and “lit” are slang terms meaning “drunk”.

51 Target of a 1972 ban : DDT

DDT is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (don’t forget now!). DDT was used with great success to control disease-carrying insects during WWII, and when made available for use after the war it became by far the most popular pesticide. And then Rachel Carson published her famous book “Silent Spring”, suggesting there was a link between DDT and diminishing populations of certain wildlife. It was the public outcry sparked by the book, and reports of links between DDT and cancer, that led to the ban on the use of the chemical in 1972. That ban is touted as the main reason that the bald eagle was rescued from near extinction.

52 Demi of pop : LOVATO

Pop and R&B singer Demi Lovato started her performing career as a child actress, playing Angela on the kids TV show “Barney & Friends” from 2002 to 2004. When she was all grown up, Levato served as a judge on “The X Factor” from 2012 to 2013, and soon after had the recurring role of Dani on “Glee”.

63 Erin Doherty’s role on “The Crown” : ANNE

Anne, Princess Royal was born in 1950 and is the only daughter of British Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Anne has been in the public spotlight for many things, including her success as an equestrian. Princess Anne was the first member of the British Royal Family to have competed in an Olympic Games. Her daughter Zara Phillips continued the tradition and competed as a member of the British equestrian team in the 2012 Olympic Games. Zara’s medal was presented to her by her own mother, Princess Anne.

“The Crown” is a historical drama produced for Netflix that covers the life of British Queen Elizabeth II from her marriage to Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. For the first two seasons, Elizabeth is played by Claire Foy and Philip by Matt Smith. For the next two seasons, Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies take over as Elizabeth and Philip.

65 Get-up : TOGS

The verb “to tog up”, meaning “to dress up”, comes from the Latin “toga” describing the garment worn in ancient Rome. “Tog” can also be used as an informal word for a coat or a cloak. Back in Ireland, togs are what we call swimming shorts.

66 Retreats from the heat : OASES

An isolated area of vegetation in a desert is called an oasis (plural “oases”). As water is needed for plant growth, an oasis might also include a spring, pond or small lake. We often use the term “oasis” more generally to describe a haven, a place of rest.

Down

1 Mezza ___ : VOCE

“Mezza voce”, literally “half voice”, means “to sing with moderate volume or a subdued tone”.

4 Pkg. insert : ENC

Enclosure (enc.)

8 Org. that endorsed Obamacare : AMA

American Medical Association (AMA)

The correct name for what has been dubbed “Obamacare” is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

9 Court suspensions? : NETS

That might be tennis.

10 Square-cut masonry : ASHLAR

There’s “rubble masonry” and “ashlar masonry”. The former uses irregularly-shaped stones, to build a wall perhaps, whereas the later uses stone that has been dressed and generally sculpted into rectangular blocks. So ashlar often can look like brick, but the “brick” is just shaped stone as opposed to formed and fired building material.

13 Rafts : TONS

A raft is a large amount, coming from the Middle English “raf” meaning the same thing.

15 Seasonal seafood delicacy : SHAD ROE

The shad is also known as the river herring. The eggs (roe) of the shad are prized as a delicacy in the Eastern US.

18 Foe of Caesar : CATO

Cato the Younger was a politician in the late Roman Republic. He was noted for his moral integrity, and his ability as an orator. He is also remembered for an extended conflict that he had with Julius Caesar.

27 ___ Mesa, Calif. : COSTA

Costa Mesa is a city in Orange County, California. The city used to be called Harper, and changed its name in 1920 to Costa Mesa, the Spanish for “coastal plateau”.

28 Academy offering : OSCAR

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is the organization that gives the annual Academy Awards, also known as the “Oscars”. The root of the name “Oscar” is hotly debated, but what is agreed is that the award was officially named “Oscar” in 1939. The first Academy Awards were presented at a brunch in 1929 with an audience of just 29 people. The Awards ceremony is a slightly bigger event these days …

31 Mike Piazza, beginning in 2006 : EX-MET

Mike Piazza is a former MLB catcher who spent most of his playing career with the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Piazza retired from the game in 2007, but turned to the game again in 2019 when he took on management of the Italian National Baseball team.

32 Poorly kept : SEEDY

We use the word “seedy” to mean “shabby”. The usage probably arose from the appearance of a flowering plant that has gone to seed.

34 Mideast capital : DOHA

Doha is the capital city of the Persian Gulf state of Qatar. The name “Doha” translates from Arabic as “the big tree”.

52 Future D.A.’s hurdle : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

58 Source of the word “trousers” : 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).

Trousers are pants, the garment covering the lower body and each leg separately. Ultimately, the word “trousers” evolved from the Erse word “triubhas” that described close-fitting shorts. Back in the 1600s there was a colorful saying:

A jellous wife was like an Irish trouze, alwayes close to a mans tayle

59 W.W. I battle locale : YSER

The Yser is a river that originates in northern France and flows through Belgium into the North Sea. The Yser is often associated with WWI as it figured in a major battle early in the conflict. In the first three months of the war, the German Army pushed almost completely through Belgium, inflicting heavy losses on the Belgian Army as the defenders were forced to fight a fast-moving rearguard action. The Germans were intent on pushing right through Belgium and across France in a “race to the sea”. But the Belgians, with the help of their Allies, decided to make a final stand at the Yser Canal in an effort to prevent the Germans reaching the French ports of Calais and Dunkirk. The 22-mile long defensive line was chosen at the Yser because the river and canal system could be flooded to create a barrier that might be defended. The plan was successful and the front was “stabilized”. As we now know, millions of lives were lost over the coming years with very little movement of that battle line.

61 One of the Beastie Boys : MCA

Beastie Boys are a hip hop band from New York that formed back in 1981.

62 Fella : BUB

“Bub” is American slang, and a term used to address males. “Bub” is possibly a variation of “bud”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Vague sense : VIBE
5 Nick ___, football coach who led both L.S.U. and Alabama to national championships : SABAN
10 Look out for, say : ABET
14 Line outside the entrance? : OPEN SESAME!
16 State flower of Utah : SEGO
17 Using any means necessary : CATCH AS CATCH CAN
19 The U.S. Open is played on it: Abbr. : EDT
20 Supermodel Wek : ALEK
21 Caesar and others : SALADS
22 + or -, for a battery : END
24 Recipe abbr. : TSP
26 Torque symbol : TAU
27 Kitchen tool for fruit : CORER
29 What Neptune’s chariot was drawn by : SEAHORSES
33 Longtime CBS News host Charles : OSGOOD
35 Cleared one’s cookies? : ATE
36 PC program suffix : EXE
37 Setting for forensic investigations : SCENE OF THE CRIME
41 Bit of needle work : TAT
42 Conned : HAD
43 Sacked : LOOTED
44 Things typically found in dens : ARMCHAIRS
48 Rank : NASTY
49 “___ et labora” (“Pray and work”: Lat.) : ORA
50 Like a hoppin’ party : LIT
51 Target of a 1972 ban : DDT
52 Demi of pop : LOVATO
55 Mantel piece : VASE
57 “Yo!” : HEY!
60 Stereotypical cry from a sailor : SHIVER ME TIMBERS!
63 Erin Doherty’s role on “The Crown” : ANNE
64 One involved with an operation : SCRUB NURSE
65 Get-up : TOGS
66 Retreats from the heat : OASES
67 Some real heady stuff? : BEER

Down

1 Mezza ___ : VOCE
2 Modern register at a cashless establishment : IPAD
3 “Let’s go!” : BETTER GET MOVING!
4 Pkg. insert : ENC
5 Close up : SEAL
6 Things in the plus column : ASSETS
7 People who might tell you to stop, but probably shouldn’t : BACKSEAT DRIVERS
8 Org. that endorsed Obamacare : AMA
9 Court suspensions? : NETS
10 Square-cut masonry : ASHLAR
11 George Mallory’s famous response to “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” : BECAUSE IT’S THERE
12 “Wow!,” quaintly : EGAD!
13 Rafts : TONS
15 Seasonal seafood delicacy : SHAD ROE
18 Foe of Caesar : CATO
23 Extra-bright : NEON
25 Way : PATH
27 ___ Mesa, Calif. : COSTA
28 Academy offering : OSCAR
30 Obedience class command : HEEL
31 Mike Piazza, beginning in 2006 : EX-MET
32 Poorly kept : SEEDY
34 Mideast capital : DOHA
38 Hold for another year, say : FAIL
39 Censure : CONDEMN
40 Way : ROAD
45 Really fancies : CRAVES
46 Not fancy at all : HATE
47 Center of a circle or square, maybe : STATUE
52 Future D.A.’s hurdle : LSAT
53 [Gulp!] : [OH NO!]
54 Thereabouts : OR SO
56 Some members of the fam : SIBS
58 Source of the word “trousers” : ERSE
59 W.W. I battle locale : YSER
61 One of the Beastie Boys : MCA
62 Fella : BUB

16 thoughts on “1218-20 NY Times Crossword 18 Dec 20, Friday”

  1. 20:18. Happened to be up tonight so I decided to post first instead of my usual last place post. Overall not too tough for a Friday.

    I had Mezza luna before Mezza VOCE because I know a restaurant by that name in Austin, TX. I backed out of that in a hurry. ASHLAR was new to me.

    Really liked the clue for OPEN SESAME.

    Best –

  2. 21:55 Getting a couple of the long answers early helped. I started with 17A as BYHOOKORBYCROOK. I used to climb so 11D was a gimme and conflicted with 17A so 17A didn’t last long. Had to search a couple minutes at the end because I had LEVATO vs LOVATO and BUD vs BUB. Knew it wasn’t quite right having a DEER being heady stuff when I first entered it – unless you’re a taxidermist. Like @Jeff, also unfamiliar with ASHLAR

  3. 13:50, no errors, no complaints. Wasn’t sure if 5-Down was going to be SEAL or NEAR, but ALEK seemed to make more sense than AREK as a first name for Ms. Wek (someone I’d never heard of) and SABAN seemed vaguely familiar, so that SEALed the deal … 😜 (in retrospect, somewhat, fortuitously, as I would otherwise have ended up with the same errors as Bill).

    Recently, I’ve begun doing old crossword puzzles that I retrieve from the NYT archives. Last night, just before going to bed, I did a 15×15 from Friday, March 30, 1973 (edited by Will Weng, author unknown) that took me about 25 minutes to finish (with, by some miracle, no errors, except for a square that I forgot to fill). Some answers I had to guess at: SHAS for “Asian sheep”; TOLU for “Tropical balsam”; ADARE for “Cape of Antarctica”; TROAS for “Site of ancient Troy”; LOUP for “Half-mask”; TROP for “De ___ (too much)”; ORNE for “Caen’s river”; POON for “Mastwood”; ARGOL for “Crude tartar”; ESSI for “They, in Italy”; PANI for “Polish title”; ALFA for “Esparto grass”; and IRRA for “Babylonian war god”. Those who pine for the halcyon days of yesteryear, before that evil Will Shortz came along and ruined the NYT puzzles, should be made to go back and do some examples from previous eras. (Mind you, I’m very much enjoying my little experiment, but I think a lot of the older puzzles would clearly elicit howls of outrage from modern audiences … 😜.)

  4. 21:47, a miraculous time for this kid👍

    Greg, the US Open, I assume the tennis version, not the golf version, is played in Eastern Daylight Time.

    Nonny, while I would not howl or complain at the challenge of an older puzzle, my times would be 10X what the are now 🙂

    1. @DuncanR …

      I applaud your maturity! (But there are those who lack the quality … 😜.)

      Actually, some of the old puzzles have led to very interesting journeys through Dr. Google’s libraries. The puzzle from Monday, March 26, 1973, contained the clue “Famed Sing Sing warden” for the entry LAWES, referring to one Lewis E. Lawes, an advocate of prison reform who nevertheless oversaw 303 executions during his long tenure as warden. Even more interesting is the story of his wife, Kathryn, who was so loved by Sing Sing inmates that, when she died in an accident (in 1937), Lewis threw open the gates to the prison and allowed them to attend her funeral, after which all of them returned to their cells as promised!

    2. Amen to that – and of course, there was no Google back then, so finding an answer to that arcana (exotica??) would require the next day’s newspaper.

  5. Tough puzzle.. technically DNF cut I looked up OSGOOD. Had KURALT but I got frustrated and dove into GOOGLE.. I can’t imagine doing as many puzzles as I do without the GOOGLE train. Let alone one from 1973. I at least started out with my faithful crossword dictionary. The edges and my finger tips were black with ink from flipping those pages.

  6. 30:50 no errors…I got a lot of the long answers early, which I usually don’t do, and that really opened this one up.😀
    Stay safe.😀
    I’m ready for baseball😀

  7. Bill — re your note on “Bub” — it was always my understanding that Bub is a shortening of “Bubba,” which in turn is a child’s term for Brother. My aunt used to call her younger brother, my father, “Bubbie.”

  8. One error due to a poor finishing edit. I work in ink so don’t get digital hints or warnings like “almost there,” etc. Anyway, a good puzzle and, like Jack, was able to get the long answers early which helped.

  9. 13:22, no errors. I usually try to target the short entries first, but today I just seemed to be in sync with long entries.

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