1220-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Dec 20, Sunday

Constructed by: Randolph Ross
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Toy Story

Themed answers are all celebrated TOYS, with the clues providing a short STORY about each:

  • 22A She debuted on March 9, 1959, in a black-and-white striped swimsuit : BARBIE DOLL
  • 24A Virtual pet simulation game that won an Ig Nobel prize for its Japanese creators : TAMAGOTCHI
  • 39A Toy that was originally called “L’Écran Magique” (“The Magic Screen”) : ETCH A SKETCH
  • 57A Game that got a big boost when Johnny Carson demonstrated it with Eva Gabor on “The Tonight Show” : TWISTER
  • 78A Toy that was derived from a wallpaper cleaner : PLAY-DOH
  • 95A Toy with 18 spoken phrases, including “I love you” and “May I have a cookie?” : CHATTY CATHY
  • 111A Puzzle toy solved in a record 3.47 seconds in 2018 : RUBIK’S CUBE
  • 114A Toy that astronauts brought to space to secure tools in zero gravity : SILLY PUTTY
  • 33D By the end of 1996, one million of this toy was sold in a shopping frenzy : TICKLE ME ELMO
  • 38D First toy to be advertised on TV : MR POTATO HEAD
  • 46D Its box once read “A sweet little game for sweet little folks” : CANDY LAND
  • 48D Toy that sold more cars in America in 1991 than the Honda Accord or Ford Taurus : COZY COUPE

Bill’s time: 14m 45s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Currency of Thailand : BAHT

The baht is the currency of Thailand. One baht is subdivided into 100 satang.

9 U.S. city just south of Timpanogos Cave National Monument : OREM

Orem, Utah was originally known as “Sharon” (a Biblical name), then “Provo Bench”, and in 1914 it was given the family name of a local railroad operator called “Orem”. Orem gave itself the nickname “Family City USA” and sure enough in 2010, “Forbes” rated Orem the 5th best place in the country to raise a family.

20 Strong adhesive : EPOXY

Epoxy resins are thermosetting polymers that have high adhesive strength. In order to achieve mechanical and adhesive strength, the epoxy has to cure. The “curing” is a cross-linking reaction that takes place between individual molecules in the material. In some cases, the cross-linking is brought about by mixing the epoxy with a co-reactant known as a “hardener”. In other cases, the epoxy is cured by exposing it to heat.

22 She debuted on March 9, 1959, in a black-and-white striped swimsuit : BARBIE DOLL

The famous Barbie doll was created by businesswoman Ruth Handler and first appeared on store shelves in 1959. Barbie was based on a German fashion doll called Bild Lilli that was introduced in 1955. Lilli had been a German cartoon character before taking on a three-dimensional form. Prior to the introduction of Bild Lilli and Barbie, children’s dolls were primarily representations of infants.

24 Virtual pet simulation game that won an Ig Nobel prize for its Japanese creators : TAMAGOTCHI

Tamagotchis are hand-held digital pets from Japan. They come housed in tiny egg-shaped computers, usually with a three-button interface. The Tamagotchis can be named, get hungry, and can be happy or sad. Care is provided by the owner using the interface buttons. The name “Tamagotchi” comes from the Japanese word “tamago” meaning “egg”, melded with the English word “watch”.

27 Glenn Miller classic : IN THE MOOD

Famously, Glenn Miller signed up with the US Air Force Band during World War II, and disappeared while flying from the South of England to entertain troops that had just liberated Paris. Miller is still listed as missing in action …

29 Purchases on 14 de febrero : ROSAS

In Spanish, a gift of “rosas” (roses) might be given on the “14 de febrero” (14th of February).

31 Major talent grp. representing athletes and entertainers : CAA

The Creative Arts Agency (CAA) is a talent agency based in Los Angeles, and is noted for representing big stars in the areas of entertainment and sports.

36 Overplays, with “up” : HAMS …

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

39 Toy that was originally called “L’Écran Magique” (“The Magic Screen”) : ETCH A SKETCH

Etch A Sketch was introduced in 1960. The toy was developed in France by inventor André Cassagnes, who initially named it “L’Écran Magique” (The Magic Screen).

44 “Lost ___ is never found again”: Benjamin Franklin : TIME

Benjamin Franklin came from a large family. He was his father’s fifteenth child (Josiah Franklin had seventeen children in all, with two wives). Benjamin was born in Boston in 1706. He had very little schooling, heading out to work for his father when he was ten years old. He became an apprentice printer to his older brother at the age of twelve. Benjamin did quite well with that limited education …

45 Natl. Humor Month : APR

National Humor Month was launched in 1976, and is observed in April of each year. The idea came from author and humorist Larry Wilde. Wilde’s intent was to highlight the therapeutic value of laughter and joy.

46 Mild, light-colored cigar : CLARO

A claro is a mild cigar made with light-colored tobacco. The name “claro” comes from the Spanish for “clear”.

47 Things found in wandering souls? : A-E-I-O-U

All the vowels are found in alphabetical order in the phrase “wandering souls”.

48 Rhodes of the Rhodes scholarship : CECIL

Cecil Rhodes (famous in America as the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship), was a very successful English businessman and South African politician. He founded the De Beers diamond mining company, and also founded the state of Rhodesia which was named after him. The British colony gained its independence over time in the latter half of the 20th century, and is known today as the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian capital of Salisbury was renamed in 1982 to Harare, the current capital of Zimbabwe.

The Rhodes Scholarship is an award that funds postgraduate study at Oxford University. The scholarship dates back to 1902, when it was established by English mining magnate and politician Cecil Rhodes. Several Rhodes Scholars have gone on to head governments including, Bill Clinton (US), John Turner (Canada) and there Australian Prime Ministers (Bob Hawke, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull). The program is not without controversy. For decades, it was only open to males, and in fact only males who were not black Africans.

49 Photo finishes : SEPIAS

Sepia is that rich, brown-grey color so common in old photographs. “Sepia” is the Latinized version of the Greek word for cuttlefish, as sepia pigment is derived from the ink sac of the cuttlefish. Sepia ink was commonly used for writing and drawing as far back as ancient Rome and ancient Greece. The “sepia tone” of old photographs is not the result of deterioration over time. Rather, it is the result of a deliberate preservation process which converts the metallic silver in the photographic image to a more stable silver sulfide. Prints that have been sepia-toned can last in excess of 150 years.

51 U.S./U.K. divider: Abbr. : ATL

The earliest known mention of the name “Atlantic”, for the world’s second-largest ocean, was in ancient Greece. The Greeks called said ocean “the Sea of Atlas” or “Atlantis thalassa”.

55 Flag carrier with an alphabetically ordered name : KLM

The initialism “KLM” stands for “Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij”, which translates from Dutch as “Royal Aviation Company”. KLM is the flag carrier for the Netherlands, and is the oldest airline in the world still operating with its original name. It was founded in 1919. KLM merged with Air France in 2004.

57 Game that got a big boost when Johnny Carson demonstrated it with Eva Gabor on “The Tonight Show” : TWISTER

Twister is a game requiring a lot of physical dexterity and flexibility. It involves players placing specific hands and feet onto colored pads on a mat, as directed by a spinning arrow on a board. Sales of the game got a great boost in 1966, when Eva Gabor played Twister with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show”.

59 Showy shrub : AZALEA

Azaleas are very toxic to most animals. If you go to Korea, you might come across “Tug Yonju”, which is azalea wine made from the plant’s blossoms. Azaleas are usually grown as shrubs, but are also seen as small trees, and often indoors.

61 Schlepped : TOTED

Our word “schlep” (sometimes “schlepp”) means “carry, drag”. “Schlep” comes from Yiddish, with “shlepen” having the same meaning.

62 City in north-central Florida : OCALA

The city of Ocala, Florida was founded near a historic village with the same name. In the local Timucua language “Ocala” means “Big Hammock”. Back in the 1890s, Ocala was famous for its oranges, with over one third of that fruit shipped from Florida coming from the city. Also, thoroughbred horse farming in Florida started in Ocala, back in 1943. Some folks today call Ocala the “Horse Capital of the World”, but I bet that’s disputed by others …

63 Writer Arthur Conan ___ : DOYLE

According to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his character Sherlock Holmes was based on a Dr. Joseph Bell for whom Doyle worked in Edinburgh. That said, Bell actually wrote a letter to Doyle in which he said “you are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it”.

64 Umpteen : MANY

The word “umpty” was introduced as slang for a Morse code dash. In the early 1900’s, the same term came to mean “of an indefinite number”, and was associated with the numerals divisible by ten, i.e. twenty, thirty, forty, etc. The extended adjective “umpteen” began to appear during WWI as army slang.

69 Food ___ (Thanksgiving feeling) : COMA

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is absolutely essential in our diet as it cannot be manufactured in the human body. There’s an old wive’s tale that high levels of tryptophan in turkey can cause drowsiness after a meal. However, the levels of tryptophan are comparable in turkey and other meats. It’s likely that the drowsiness is just due to eating a meal.

76 ___ area, part of the brain linked to speech production : BROCA’S

Paul Broca was a French physician who provided the first anatomical proof that brain function was localized. He studied the brains of individuals suffering from aphasia, the inability to comprehend formulate language due to brain injury after a stroke or head trauma. Broca discovered that aphasia patients had lesions in a specific part of the brain, the left frontal region. This region of the brain’s cortex that is responsible for language is now called Broca’s Area, in his honor.

78 Toy that was derived from a wallpaper cleaner : PLAY-DOH

Back in the 1930s, a manufacturer in Cincinnati produced a doughy compound that was used to clean wallpaper. Twenty years later, school-kids started using the cleaning material as a modelling compound, so the manufacturer reworked the formula, and sold it to local schools. It was given the name “Play-Doh”.

83 Phillies div. : NL EAST

Philadelphia’s baseball team was founded in 1883 as the Quakers, with the name changing to “Philadelphias” and “Phillies” not long into the team’s history. The Phillies have been based in the same city using the same team name longer than any other team in US professional sports.

86 Harlem attraction, with “the” : … APOLLO

The Apollo Theater in the Harlem district of Manhattan, New York opened in 1914 as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. The original facility was a whites-only venue. When it was opened to African Americans in 1934, the name was changed to “The Apollo”.

87 Golf great Sam : SNEAD

Sam Snead was probably the most successful golfer never to win a US Open title, as he won a record 82 PGA Tour events. Snead did win seven majors, but never the US Open. He was also quite the showman. He once hit the scoreboard at Wrigley Field stadium with a golf ball, by teeing off from home plate. Snead’s best-remembered nickname is “Slammin’ Sammy”.

94 Right away : STAT

The exact etymology of “stat”, a term meaning “immediately” in the medical profession, seems to have been lost in the mists of time. It probably comes from the Latin “statim” meaning “to a standstill, immediately”. A blog reader has helpfully suggested that the term may also come from the world of laboratory analysis, where the acronym STAT stands for “short turn-around time”.

95 Toy with 18 spoken phrases, including “I love you” and “May I have a cookie?” : CHATTY CATHY

Chatty Cathy is a doll that was produced by Mattel from 1959 to 1965. Chatty Cathy could utter eleven phrases when a ring on a cord was pulled at the back of the doll. The speech was generated by a tiny phonograph record that was housed in the doll’s abdomen.

97 Investment firm T. ___ Price : ROWE

T. Rowe Price is an investment company based in Baltimore that was founded in 1937 by Thomas Rowe Price, Jr.

98 A halogen-containing salt : IODATE

An iodate is a salt that includes an anion made from one iodine atom connected to three oxygen atoms.

100 ___-Locka, Fla. : OPA

Opa-Locka is a rather interesting city in Florida. Located near Miami, Opa-Locka has a themed city plan that is based on “One Thousand and One Nights”. The city hall has a very Arabian look, and some examples of street names are Ali Baba Avenue and Sesame Street.

103 Politician parodied by Dana Carvey on 1990s “S.N.L.” : ROSS PEROT

Ross Perot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1953, as president of his class. Perot served his 4-year commitment but then resigned his commission, apparently having become somewhat disillusioned with the navy. He was ranked number 101 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans in 2012, and at that time was worth about $3.5 billion. Back in 1992, Perot ran as an independent candidate for US president. He founded the Reform Party in 1995, and ran as the Reform Party candidate for president in 1996.

Dana Carvey, along with the likes of Phil Hartman and Kevin Nealon, was part of the new breed of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) comedians credited with resurrecting the show in the late eighties. One of Carvey’s most popular characters was the Church Lady, and he became so associated with her that among fellow cast members Carvey was often referred to simply as “the Lady”. Another favorite Carvey character was Garth Algar who went to feature in the “Wayne’s World” movies. Carvey had open-heart surgery in 1997 to clear a blocked artery, but the surgical team operated on the wrong blood vessel. To recover, he had to have five more procedures. He ended up suing for medical malpractice and donated his $7.5 million compensation payment to charity.

107 Performed a Latin ballroom dance : SAMBAED

The samba is a Brazilian dance that is very much symbolic of the festival of Carnival. Like so much culture around the world, the samba has its roots in Africa, as the dance is derived from dances performed by former slaves who migrated into urban Rio de Janeiro in the late 1800s. The exact roots of the name “samba” seem to have been lost in the mists of time. However, my favorite explanation is that it comes from an African Kikongo word “semba” which means “a blow struck with the belly button”. We don’t seem to have a need for such a word in English …

111 Puzzle toy solved in a record 3.47 seconds in 2018 : RUBIK’S CUBE

What was originally called the “Magic Cube” became better known as “Rubik’s Cube”, and was named for its inventor Ernő Rubik. Rubik’s Cube is the world’s biggest selling puzzle game, with over 350 million sold in just over 30 years.

114 Toy that astronauts brought to space to secure tools in zero gravity : SILLY PUTTY

Silly Putty is a silicone polymer that is marketed as a toy, usually sold in an egg-shaped plastic container. It is a remarkable material that can flow like a liquid and can also bounce. Silly Putty was one of those accidental creations, an outcome of research during WWII in search of substitutes for rubber. The substitution became urgent as Japan invaded rubber-producing countries all around the Pacific Rim.

121 Strong criticism : FLAK

“Flak” was originally an acronym standing for the German term for an aircraft defense cannon (FLiegerAbwehrKanone). “Flak” then became used in English as a general term for antiaircraft fire and ultimately a term for verbal criticism, as in “to take flak”.

122 Chichi : ARTY

Someone or something described as chichi is showily trendy and pretentious. “Chichi” is a French noun meaning “airs, fuss”.

Down

1 Longest-serving Israeli prime minister, familiarly : BIBI

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu became Prime Minister of Israel in 2009, when he became the first leader of the country who was born in the state of Israel. After graduating high school, Netanyahu served in the Israeli special forces and participated in several combat missions, getting wounded on multiple occasions. After leaving the army in 1972, Netanyahu studied at MIT in the US, earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in business.

2 Driver around Hollywood : ADAM

Adam Driver is an actor best known to TV audiences for playing Adam Sackler on the show “Girls” that airs on HBO. Driver’s movie career got a huge boost in 2015 when he played villain Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

3 “And, touching ___, make blessed my rude hand”: Romeo : HERS

William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” doesn’t end well for the title characters. Juliet takes a potion as a ruse to fool her parents, to trick them into thinking she is dead. The potion puts her in a death-like coma for 24 hours, after which Juliet plans to awaken and run off with Romeo. Juliet sends a message to Romeo apprising him of the plan, but the message fails to arrive. Romeo hears of Juliet’s “death”, and grief-stricken he takes his own life by drinking poison. Juliet awakens from the coma, only to find her lover dead beside her. She picks up a dagger and commits suicide. And nobody lives happily ever after …

4 Small snare drums : TABORS

A tabor is a portable snare drum that is played with one hand. The tabor is usually suspended by a strap from one arm, with the other hand free to beat the drum. It is often played as an accompaniment for a fife or other small flutes. The word “tabor” comes from “tabwrdd”, the Welsh word for “drum”.

5 Inaccurate information : BAD DATA

Our word “data” (singular “datum”) comes from the Latin “datum” meaning “given”. The idea is that data are “things given”.

6 Game with red and yellow cards : UNO

In my youth I remember being taught a great card game by a German acquaintance of mine, a game called Mau Mau. Years later I discovered that UNO is basically the same game, but played with a purpose-printed deck instead of the regular deck of playing cards that’s used for Mau Mau. I hear that Mau Mau is derived from the game called Crazy Eights.

7 1904 World’s Fair city: Abbr. : STL

The 1904 World’s Fair held in St. Louis was actually called the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, as it celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. There are many claims of “firsts” at the 1904 Fair, and among the list of real “firsts” are the introduction of Dr. Pepper, the ice cream cone and Puffed Wheat! The fair, which ran for much of 1904, was the host for the 1904 Summer Olympic Games, the first to be held in the US.

8 Flint is a form of it : SILICA

Flint is a form of the mineral quartz. Flint can be used to start a fire. The hard edge of flint when struck against steel can shave off a particle of the metal. The particle of steel contains exposed iron that reacts with oxygen in the air creating a spark that can light dry tinder.

9 Moonfish : OPAH

“Opah” is the more correct name for the fish also known as the sunfish, moonfish or Jerusalem haddock. I’ve seen one in the Monterey Aquarium. It is one huge fish …

10 Sacking site in A.D. 410 : ROME

The East Germanic tribe called the Goths had two main branches, called the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. The Visigothic capital was the city of Toulouse in France, whereas the Ostrogoth capital was the Italian city of Ravenna just inland of the Adriatic coast. It was the Visigoths who sacked Rome in 410 CE, heralding the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

15 Dr. Fauci’s agcy. : NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

16 Poli ___ : SCI

Political science (poli sci)

18 Premiere arrival : LIMO

The word “limousine” derives from the name of the French city of Limoges. The area around Limoges is called the Limousin, and it gave its name to a cloak hood worn by local shepherds. In early motor cars, a driver would sit outside in the weather while the passengers would sit in the covered compartment. The driver would often wear a limousin-style protective hood, giving rise to that type of transportation being called a “limousine”. Well, that’s how the story goes …

20 Classic comics teen with good manners : ETTA KETT

“Etta Kett” was a comic strip that first ran in 1925. The strip ceased to be published in 1974, when creator Paul Robinson passed away. The initial intent was to offer tips to teenagers on manners and social graces, hence the name of the title character Etta Kett (sounds like “etiquette”).

23 They can elevate art : EASELS

The word “easel” comes from an old Dutch word meaning “donkey”, would you believe? The idea is that an easel carries its load (an oil painting, say) just as a donkey would be made to carry a load.

25 Alley ___ : OOP

“Alley Oop” is a comic strip that ran for four decades starting in 1932. “Alley Oop” was drawn by V. T. Hamlin. The title character lived in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo, although for much of the strip’s life, Alley Oop had access to a time machine. Alley Oop also had a girlfriend called Ooola. I had assumed that Ooola’s name was a play on “hula hoop”, but that little toy wasn’t invented until the 1950s (a kind blog reader informs me) …

30 The beginning, in an idiom : SCRATCH

Apparently the phrase “start from scratch” arose in the world of sports, probably in cricket or boxing. A line would be scratched into the ground to indicate a starting point.

33 By the end of 1996, one million of this toy was sold in a shopping frenzy : TICKLE ME ELMO

The Tickle Me Elmo toy was a sensational fad in the late nineties, with stores raising prices dramatically above the recommended retail price to take advantage of demand. Reportedly, prices as high as $1500 were paid at the height of the craze. The toy’s manufacturer, Tyco, originally planned to market the “tickle” toy as Tickle Me Tasmanian Devil (after the “Looney Tunes” character), but then went with “Elmo” after they bought the rights to use “Sesame Street” names.

34 “South Pacific” hero : EMILE

The storyline in the musical “South Pacific” centers on a young American nurse named Nellie Forbush and an expatriate French planter named Emile de Becque.

35 2014 film directed by Ava DuVernay : SELMA

“Selma” is a 2014 film about the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965. Directed by Ava DuVernay, the movie stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Ava DuVernay is a filmmaker who became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, a feat she achieved in 2012 for her feature film “Middle of Nowhere”. “Middle of Nowhere” tells the story of a woman who drops out of medical school to focus on her husband when he is sentenced to 8 years in prison. DuVernay also directed the 2014 film “Selma” about the 1965 voting rights marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

37 Simian world : APEDOM

“Simian” means “pertaining to monkeys or apes”, from the Latin word “simia” meaning “ape”.

38 First toy to be advertised on TV : MR POTATO HEAD

Mr. Potato Head is an enduring popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stuck into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.

41 St. Patrick’s home : EIRE

“Éire”, is the Irish word for “Ireland”. The related “Erin” is an anglicized version of “Éire” and actually corresponds to “Éirinn”, the dative case of “Éire”.

There is a fair amount known about Saint Patrick, some of which comes from two letters written in his own hand. St. Patrick lived in the fifth century, but was not born in Ireland. He was first brought to Ireland at about 16 years of age from his native Britain, by Irish raiders who made him a slave for six years. Patrick managed to escape and returned to his homeland where he studied and entered the Church. He went back to Ireland as a bishop and a missionary and there lived out the rest of his life. There seems to be good evidence that he died on March 17th (now celebrated annually as Saint Patrick’s Day), although the year is less clear. The stories about shamrock and snakes, I am afraid they are the stuff of legend.

46 Its box once read “A sweet little game for sweet little folks” : CANDY LAND

The board game Candy Land first went on the market in 1949, and in 2005 was named the most popular “toy” of the whole 1940s decade.

48 Toy that sold more cars in America in 1991 than the Honda Accord or Ford Taurus : COZY COUPE

Little Tikes is an American toy company based in Hudson, Ohio. One of the company’s more famous products is the Cozy Coupe toy car. The Cozy Coupe is the world’s best selling car, outselling the Honda Accord and the Ford Taurus!

50 Promoting peace : IRENIC

“Irenic” (also “eirenic”) means peaceful, and comes from the Greek “eirene” meaning “peace”. A lovely word …

52 Actress Taylor of “Mystic Pizza” : LILI

Actress Lili Taylor had supporting roles in films like “Mystic Pizza”, “The Haunting” and “Rudy”. She also had a recurring role in the HBO series “Six Feet Under”.

“Mystic Pizza” is a coming-of-age film released in 1988. Included in the cast are Annabeth Gish and Julia Roberts. If you watch closely, you’ll also see Matt Damon speaking his first line in a movie. The title refers to the name of a pizza restaurant located in Mystic, Connecticut.

60 “The Tempest” king : ALONSO

In William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”, Alonso is the King of Naples. Alonso helps Antonio to depose his brother Prospero as Duke of Milan and set him adrift in a boat with Prospero’s young daughter Miranda.

62 Cleanliness fixation, e.g., in brief : OCD

Apparently, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the fourth most commonly diagnosed mental disorder, making it about as prevalent as asthma.

63 Brit. military award : DSO

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a British military award that is usually presented to officers with the rank of major or higher.

67 Reason for glasses : MYOPIA

A myope is someone suffering from myopia, short-sightedness. Far-sightedness or long-sightedness is known as hypermetropia or hyperopia .

68 Singer with a self-titled #1 album in 2002 : ASHANTI

Ashanti Douglas is an American R&B singer who uses just “Ashanti” as her stage name.

72 Subj. for some aspiring bilinguals : ESL

English as a Second Language (ESL) is sometimes referred to as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

75 Sierra ___ : LEONE

The Republic of Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa that lies on the Atlantic Coast. The capital city of Freetown was originally set up as a colony to house the “Black Poor” of London, England. These people were mainly freed British slaves of Caribbean descent who were living a miserable life in the run-down parts of London. Perhaps to help the impoverished souls, perhaps to rid the streets of “a problem”, three ships were chartered in 1787 to transport a group of blacks, with some whites, to a piece of land purchased in Sierra Leone. Those who made the voyage were granted British citizenship and protection. The descendants of these immigrants, and others who made the journey over the next 60 years, make up the ethnic group that’s today called the Sierra Leone Creole.

76 Operatic villains, often : BASSI

The bass is the lowest male singing voice. A man with such a voice might be called a “basso” (plural “bassi”). In an opera, the villain of the piece is usually played by a basso.

78 Legal assistant, briefly : PARA

A paralegal (sometimes just “para”) is a person who is trained sufficiently in legal matters to assist a lawyer. A paralegal cannot engage in the practice of law and must be supervised by a qualified lawyer.

79 Future J.D.’s hurdle : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

The law degree that is abbreviated to J.D. stands for “Juris Doctor” or “Doctor of Jurisprudence”.

92 Statement of resistance : OHM’S LAW

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.

95 Big name in small planes : CESSNA

The Cessna Aircraft manufacturing company was founded in 1911 by Clyde Cessna, a farmer from Kansas. Cessna is headquartered in Wichita and today has over 8,000 employees.

96 Took care of a tabby, say : CAT-SAT

Tabbies aren’t a breed of cat, but rather are cats with particular markings regardless of breed. Tabbies have coats with stripes, dots and swirling patterns, and usually an “M” mark on the forehead.

99 Tik___ (app) : TOK

TikTok is a video-sharing service that is based in China, and is very popular with the younger set. The TikTok mobile app provides tools that facilitate production of sophisticated selfie videos that use special effects.

102 Ballpark figures : UMPS

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

106 Shopping site with a “Toys” section : EBAY

eBay was founded in 1995 as AuctionWeb. One of the first items purchased was a broken laser pointer, for $14.83. The buyer was a collector of broken laser pointers …

109 Sight from the Sicilian town of Taormina : ETNA

Taormina is a village on the coast of Sicily that is a popular tourist destination. The village sits perched on a cliff, and overlooks the Ionian Sea. It is also about a 45-minute drive from Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.

111 One whistling while working in the Garden? : REF

Back in the early 17th century, a referee was someone who examined patent applications. We started using the same term for a person presiding over a sporting event in the 1820s. “Referee” is a derivative of the verb “to refer”, and literally describes someone who has the authority to make a decision by “referring to” a book, archive etc.

Madison Square Garden (MSG) is an arena in New York City used for a variety of events. In the world of sports it is home to the New York Rangers of the NHL, as well as the New York Knicks of the NBA. “The Garden” is also the third busiest music venue in the world in terms of ticket sales. The current arena is the fourth structure to bear the name, a name taken from the Madison Square location in Manhattan. In turn, the square was named for James Madison, the fourth President of the US.

112 Address with dots : URL

An Internet address (like NYXCrossword.com and LAXCrossword.com) is more correctly called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

113 Swimsuit part : BRA

The origin of the word “bikini”, describing a type of bathing suit, seems very uncertain. My favorite story is that it is named after the Bikini Atoll, site of American A-bomb tests in the forties and fifties. The name “bikini” was chosen for the swim-wear because of the “explosive” effect it had on men who saw a woman wearing the garment!

116 Calf-eteria? : LEA

I guess a young cow might get a bite to eat in a lea, a meadow, a “calf-eteria”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Currency of Thailand : BAHT
5 Kiss : BUSS
9 U.S. city just south of Timpanogos Cave National Monument : OREM
13 Minus : SANS
17 Something to shoot for : IDEAL
19 One who hasn’t turned pro? : ANTI
20 Strong adhesive : EPOXY
21 Indiana governor Holcomb : ERIC
22 She debuted on March 9, 1959, in a black-and-white striped swimsuit : BARBIE DOLL
24 Virtual pet simulation game that won an Ig Nobel prize for its Japanese creators : TAMAGOTCHI
26 [Grrr!] : [I’M SO MAD!]
27 Glenn Miller classic : IN THE MOOD
29 Purchases on 14 de febrero : ROSAS
31 Major talent grp. representing athletes and entertainers : CAA
32 Outpourings : SPATES
36 Overplays, with “up” : HAMS …
39 Toy that was originally called “L’Écran Magique” (“The Magic Screen”) : ETCH A SKETCH
44 “Lost ___ is never found again”: Benjamin Franklin : TIME
45 Natl. Humor Month : APR
46 Mild, light-colored cigar : CLARO
47 Things found in wandering souls? : A-E-I-O-U
48 Rhodes of the Rhodes scholarship : CECIL
49 Photo finishes : SEPIAS
51 U.S./U.K. divider: Abbr. : ATL
53 Loyally following : TRUE TO
55 Flag carrier with an alphabetically ordered name : KLM
56 Trim : ADORN
57 Game that got a big boost when Johnny Carson demonstrated it with Eva Gabor on “The Tonight Show” : TWISTER
59 Showy shrub : AZALEA
61 Schlepped : TOTED
62 City in north-central Florida : OCALA
63 Writer Arthur Conan ___ : DOYLE
64 Umpteen : MANY
65 Day to play with new toys : CHRISTMAS
69 Food ___ (Thanksgiving feeling) : COMA
71 Like subway walls, often : TILED
73 Final authority : SAY-SO
74 William ___, founder of Investor’s Business Daily : O’NEIL
76 ___ area, part of the brain linked to speech production : BROCA’S
78 Toy that was derived from a wallpaper cleaner : PLAY-DOH
81 “I’m here to help” : USE ME
82 Contented sigh : AAH
83 Phillies div. : NL EAST
85 ___ treatment : SPA
86 Harlem attraction, with “the” : … APOLLO
87 Golf great Sam : SNEAD
89 Place for torn-off wrapping paper : TRASH
91 Combined : IN ONE
93 Most common day to call in sick: Abbr. : MON
94 Right away : STAT
95 Toy with 18 spoken phrases, including “I love you” and “May I have a cookie?” : CHATTY CATHY
97 Investment firm T. ___ Price : ROWE
98 A halogen-containing salt : IODATE
100 ___-Locka, Fla. : OPA
101 “My luck has to change at some point” : I’M DUE
103 Politician parodied by Dana Carvey on 1990s “S.N.L.” : ROSS PEROT
107 Performed a Latin ballroom dance : SAMBAED
111 Puzzle toy solved in a record 3.47 seconds in 2018 : RUBIK’S CUBE
114 Toy that astronauts brought to space to secure tools in zero gravity : SILLY PUTTY
117 Goes off : ERRS
118 Grannies : NANAS
119 Not on solid ground, say : ASEA
120 Piece in the game go : STONE
121 Strong criticism : FLAK
122 Chichi : ARTY
123 Spring event : THAW
124 Rigging pole : SPAR

Down

1 Longest-serving Israeli prime minister, familiarly : BIBI
2 Driver around Hollywood : ADAM
3 “And, touching ___, make blessed my rude hand”: Romeo : HERS
4 Small snare drums : TABORS
5 Inaccurate information : BAD DATA
6 Game with red and yellow cards : UNO
7 1904 World’s Fair city: Abbr. : STL
8 Flint is a form of it : SILICA
9 Moonfish : OPAH
10 Sacking site in A.D. 410 : ROME
11 Physical, e.g. : EXAM
12 “Holy cow!” : MY GOSH!
13 Appointment that may be hard to change : SET DATE
14 Curve : ARC
15 Dr. Fauci’s agcy. : NIH
16 Poli ___ : SCI
18 Premiere arrival : LIMO
20 Classic comics teen with good manners : ETTA KETT
23 They can elevate art : EASELS
25 Alley ___ : OOP
28 Org. with boosters : NASA
30 The beginning, in an idiom : SCRATCH
33 By the end of 1996, one million of this toy was sold in a shopping frenzy : TICKLE ME ELMO
34 “South Pacific” hero : EMILE
35 2014 film directed by Ava DuVernay : SELMA
36 Goes after : HAS AT
37 Simian world : APEDOM
38 First toy to be advertised on TV : MR POTATO HEAD
40 Open hostilities : HOT WAR
41 St. Patrick’s home : EIRE
42 See the sights : TOUR
43 Feed lines to : CUE
46 Its box once read “A sweet little game for sweet little folks” : CANDY LAND
48 Toy that sold more cars in America in 1991 than the Honda Accord or Ford Taurus : COZY COUPE
50 Promoting peace : IRENIC
52 Actress Taylor of “Mystic Pizza” : LILI
54 “That was Zen, this is ___” (philosophy pun) : TAO
58 Smart : SASSY
60 “The Tempest” king : ALONSO
62 Cleanliness fixation, e.g., in brief : OCD
63 Brit. military award : DSO
66 Little bits : TADS
67 Reason for glasses : MYOPIA
68 Singer with a self-titled #1 album in 2002 : ASHANTI
70 Be less than ambitious : AIM LOW
72 Subj. for some aspiring bilinguals : ESL
75 Sierra ___ : LEONE
76 Operatic villains, often : BASSI
77 Totaled : RAN TO
78 Legal assistant, briefly : PARA
79 Future J.D.’s hurdle : LSAT
80 Not just available online : AT STORES
84 Biblical ending : -ETH
86 Soon : ANY DAY
88 With some downside : AT A RISK
90 Shot from a doc : HYPO
92 Statement of resistance : OHM’S LAW
95 Big name in small planes : CESSNA
96 Took care of a tabby, say : CAT-SAT
97 Counters : REBUTS
99 Tik___ (app) : TOK
102 Ballpark figures : UMPS
104 Lasting impression : SCAR
105 Give up (on) : PUNT
106 Shopping site with a “Toys” section : EBAY
108 Straddling : ATOP
109 Sight from the Sicilian town of Taormina : ETNA
110 Textile worker : DYER
111 One whistling while working in the Garden? : REF
112 Address with dots : URL
113 Swimsuit part : BRA
115 Suffix suggested by the wiggling of one’s hand : -ISH
116 Calf-eteria? : LEA

17 thoughts on “1220-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Dec 20, Sunday”

  1. 29:56 with one lookup in the NE corner. Had 13D and 14D as DUEDATE and ESS, respectively and could not make sense of it as I am unfamiliar with 24A. Guess Santa will be leaving a bit of coal in my stocking for “peeking”.

    I did start 13A as LESS, but knew that was wrong as soon as I got the Fauci cross.

    Pretty impressive time for @Bill.

    Happy Holidays all

  2. 39:57. Had a hard time getting any traction with this one. Once I bothered to notice the theme, that helped.

    At least I’d heard of all of them except COZY COUPE and TAMAGOTCHI. A virtual pet? Really? People bought that?

    APEDOM rears its head again.

    Interesting note about CANDY LAND in today’s Wordplay. It was developed in the late 40’s to give kids something to do while they were in polio wards or confined to the home for the same.

    Best –

  3. 22:40, no errors. Like Jeff, I’m unfamiliar with COZY COUPE, though TAMAGOTCHI rings a faint bell somewhere in a dark and dusty corner of my mind (as in, I remember reading about them).

    When it first came out, I was fascinated by the Rubik’s cube and I spent a lot of time learning how to unscramble one, partly from a book (I know, I know … cheating, cheating!). I owned several of them, including a small one, attached to a key ring, that I carried in my pocket. (Eventually, all the little decals that were attached to give the faces their colors began to fall off, so I removed them. After that, all the faces were black and the thing became much easier to work with … 😜.)

    I have to wonder how Rubik’s Cube solves are timed, given that (I would think) the degree to which the thing is scrambled determines the number of steps required to unscramble it. In a competition, do they give all the participants cubes that are scrambled in the same way? And wouldn’t the record solving time be a function of the starting configuration? Hmm. Some research is required, I think.

    One additional Rubik’s cube puzzle (for me): How in the world did Erno Rubik form a 3D mental image of pieces that could be fit together to form one? And how is it possible to assemble them into a cube, given that, in my experience, they certainly don’t fall apart easily? (I carried the one on my key ring for years with no problem at all.) More research … 😳.

  4. 51:33…this would have gone much quicker if it weren’t for me insisting on “due date” and not knowing how to spell “tamagotchi” in spite of my daughter owning a couple, I wonder what happened to them…they must’ve finally starved for electrons. Started with “The A Train” before”In The Mood” but that derailed quickly…

  5. I see hundreds and hundreds of words about toys and easy clues like scratch, URL, bra, and bad data. Meanwhile, the clue for the game “go” which was not capitalized and this difficult to decipher, and an odd, archaic word for kiss both get nothing???

    1. @zzbill … A calf, once weaned, might graze in a lea (a grassy area (what this ex-farm-kid would have called a pasture). So a lea, punnily, is a cafeteria for a calf … a calf-eteria.

  6. 1:11:32 with no errors and 1 lookup 24A.
    Just enough obscure and misleading clues to make this a toughie IMO.
    If I were king of America all foreign words and phrases would be banned from crossword puzzles.
    Happy New Year to all…stay safe😀
    Go Ravens 🙏

    1. Wow … “if I were king of America”! Right now, that’s a particularly frightening phrase … 😳.

      (Oops … political comment … my bad … please return to your regularly scheduled lives and pretend I didn’t post that … 😜.)

  7. Pre-Barbie, most American and European doll manufacturers made child, teenage, and adult dolls, not just baby dolls. Many of these, such as Madame Alexander’s Cissy and Cissette dolls, were fashion dolls with beautifully-made wardrobes available. Barbie took off like a rocket, though – very, very popular doll.

  8. 24:32, two connected careless errors (had Poli SKA??? what kind of weird island music would that be?). Had a lucky guess for the first “T” of ETTA KETT, as that was before my time, and I’d also never heard of TAMAGOTCHI (which I guess was after my time). I’ve never seen a CHATTY CATHY doll, but am well familiar with the classic hotel room scene of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” where Steve Martin’s Neal Page makes reference to one while reaming out John Candy’s Del Griffith.

  9. 32:10, 2 errors: TABO(L)S; (L)OSAS. Between myself (Candy Land, Mr. Potato Head, Silly Putty), my younger sisters (Barbie, Chatty Cathy, Twister, Play Doh, Etch-A-Sketch), our kids (Tamagotchi, Rubik’s Cube) and grandkids (Tickle Me Elmo, Cozy Coupe), pretty much had all the toys covered. I remember my Mr. Potato Head having sharp, metal nails sticking out of the plastic parts. The metal nails were replaced with plastic spikes molded onto the eyes, ears, etc. Probably slightly safer, and much cheaper to manufacture.

  10. Sort of knew the word TAMAGOTCHI, but couldn’t remember for sure how to spell it. So — is anyone other than myself going to admit to having thus gone with 13 down (“Appointment that may be hard to cancel”) as SEXDATE rather than SETDATE?

    No? Only me? Sigh. Ah, memories….

  11. @shrug, if it’s any consolation, I had HOT DATE.. so had a couple of misses up there..
    Then I also messed up on 22A. Had ANTY instead of ARTY.

    I believe my kids had that TAMAGATCHI.. Isn’t that the one that would “ping” or something because it needed attention?? Drove me nuts.

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