1222-20 NY Times Crossword 22 Dec 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Amy Yanni & Jeff Chen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal “Answer”: Cloud 9

The circled letters, along with the central black squares, define the theme CLOUD 9. Themed answers refer to the state of CLOUD NINE:

  • 24A With this puzzle’s central black squares, ecstasy : CLOUD (9)
  • 18A Rapture : SHEER BLISS
  • 59A Comforting mental state : HAPPY PLACE
  • 4D Heaven : SHANGRI-LA
  • 31D Realm of marvels : WONDERLAND

Bill’s time: 6m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

14 One of two in the McDonald’s logo : ARCH

The McDonald’s fast-food chain uses a stylized letter M as a logo, with the logo going by the name “Golden Arches”. Those Golden Arches are commonly integrated into the architecture of purpose-built McDonald’s restaurants.

16 Ice skating maneuver : AXEL

An axel is a forward take-off jump in figure skating. The maneuver was first performed by Norwegian Axel Paulsen at the 1882 World Figure Skating championships.

17 Dr. Zhivago’s love : LARA

The heroine of Boris Pasternak’s epic novel “Doctor Zhivago” is Lara. The Lara character was inspired by Pasternak’s mistress Olga Ivinskaya.

“Doctor Zhivago” is an epic novel by Boris Pasternak that was first published in 1957. I haven’t tried to read the book, but the 1965 film version is a must-see, directed by David Lean and starring Omar Sharif in the title role. The story centers on Yuri Zhivago, a doctor and poet, and how he is affected by the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War.

23 Org. whose members may be fore-warned? : PGA

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

No one seems to know for sure where the golfing term “fore!” comes from. It has been used at least as far back as 1881, and since then has been called out to warn other golfers that a wayward ball might be heading their way. My favorite possibility for its origin is that it is a contraction of the Gaelic warning cry “Faugh a Ballagh!” (clear the way!) which is still called out in the sport of road bowling. Road bowling is an Irish game where players bowl balls along roads between villages, trying to reach the end of the course in as few bowls as possible, just like in golf!

24 With this puzzle’s central black squares, ecstasy : CLOUD (9)

I don’t think that anyone is really certain of the etymology of the term “on cloud nine” meaning “elated”, but I do like the following explanation. The 1896 “International Cloud-Atlas” was a long-standing reference used to define cloud shapes that was based on a classification created by amateur meteorologist Luke Howard some decades earlier. The biggest and fluffiest of all cloud shapes (and most comfortable-looking to lie on) is cumulonimbus. And you guessed it, of the ten cloud shapes defined in the atlas, cumulonimbus was cloud nine …

27 Heating unit : THERM

A therm is a unit of heat energy. One therm is equivalent to 100,000 British thermal units (BTUs).

35 Perez whose film debut was in “Do the Right Thing” : ROSIE

Rosie Perez is an American actress born in New York City of Puerto Rican descent. As well as pursuing her acting career, Perez is an activist promoting Puerto Rican rights, and was arrested in 2000 at a rally to protest US Navy weapons-training off the coast of Puerto Rico.

“Do the Right Thing” is a Spike Lee movie that was released in 1989. Much of the action in the film is centered on a local pizzeria called “Sal’s” owned by Italian-American Salvatore Frangione (played by Danny Aiello).

37 ___ Island (part of Brooklyn that isn’t an island) : CONEY

Cony (or “coney”) is an old English word for rabbit or rabbit fur, and Coney Island in New York takes its name from the same root. The Dutch used the name “Conyne Eylandt” (Rabbit Island) after the large population of rabbits that was hunted there.

40 Mindless : INANE

Our word “inane” meaning “silly, lacking substance” comes from the Latin “inanitis” meaning “empty space”.

41 Affectionate nickname for the “Father of the Symphony” : PAPA HAYDN

Josef Haydn was an Austrian composer, often called the “Father of the Symphony” due to his prolific output of symphonies that helped define the form. This is one of the reasons that he was known, even in his own lifetime, as “Papa Haydn”. Haydn was also the father figure among “the big three” composers of the Classical Period: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Haydn was a good friend to Mozart, and a teacher of Beethoven.

46 Face With Tears of Joy, for one : EMOJI

An emoji is a character found on many cell phones that is much like an emoticon, but is more elaborate.

47 Keanu Reeves’s role in “The Matrix” : NEO

Keanu Reeves is a Canadian actor whose most celebrated roles were a metalhead in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989), a cop in “Speed” (1994) and the protagonist Neo in “The Matrix” series of films. Although Reeves is a Canadian national, he was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Reeves has some Hawaiian descent, and the name “Keanu” is Hawaiian for “the coolness” or “cool breeze”.

The 1999 movie sensation “The Matrix” was meant to be set in a nondescript urban environment. It was actually shot in Australia, as one of the co-producers of the film was the Australian company, Village Roadshow Pictures. You can pick up all sorts of clues about the location when watching the film, including a view of Sydney Harbour Bridge in a background shot. Also, traffic drives along on the left and there are signs for the “lift” instead of an “elevator”.

48 Houston ballplayer : ASTRO

The Houston baseball team changed its name to the Astros (sometimes “’Stros”) from the Colt .45s in 1965 when they started playing in the Astrodome. The Astrodome was so called in recognition of the city’s long association with the US space program. The Astros moved from the National League to the American League starting in the 2013 season.

52 Kind of computer port, in brief : USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and deal with electrical power through those connections.

53 Protection for vampire hunters : CROSS

Legends about vampires were particularly common in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans in particular. The superstition was that vampires could be killed using a wooden stake, with the preferred type of wood varying from place to place. Superstition also defines where the body should be pierced. Most often, the stake was driven through the heart, but Russians and northern Germans went for the mouth, and northeastern Serbs for the stomach.

56 Bar “where everybody knows your name” : CHEERS

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

63 Like a soldier who might be court-martialed : AWOL

MPs (military police officers) often track down personnel who go AWOL (absent without leave).

64 Dunkable cookie : OREO

There’s a smartphone app featuring the Oreo cookie. It’s a game in which one twists Oreo cookies apart, “licks” the cream from the center and then dunks the remainder of the cookie in a glass of milk.

67 Volume from Horace : ODES

One of ancient Rome’s leading lyric poets was Quintus Horatius Flaccus or “Horace”, as we tend to know him. Horace’s most famous work is probably his collection of Latin lyric poems titled “Carmina” (the Latin for “Odes).

68 Dingbats : YO-YOS

The word “dingbat” has been used to mean a “fool” since the early 1900s. It became very popular after it was used repeatedly by Archie Bunker in the seventies TV show “All in the Family”.

Down

1 Either part of a yin-yang symbol, e.g. : HALF

The yin and yang can be illustrated using many different metaphors. In one, as the sun shines on a mountain, the side in the shade is the yin and the side in the light is the yang. The yin is also regarded as the feminine side, and the yang the masculine. The yin can also be associated with the moon, while the yang is associated with the sun.

4 Heaven : SHANGRI-LA

Shangri-La is the earthly paradise in the mountains of Tibet described by James Hilton in his novel “Lost Horizon”. Shangri-La is “edenic” (perfect, like the Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis). Frank Capra directed a wonderful screen adaptation of “Lost Horizon” in 1937 starring Ronald Colman.

5 Church recess : APSE

The apse of a church or cathedral is a semicircular recess in an outer wall, usually with a half-dome as a roof and often where there resides an altar. Originally, apses were used as burial places for the clergy and also for storage of important relics.

8 Paris’s ___ de la Cité : ILE

There are two famous “îles” (islands) in the middle of the River Seine in Paris, one being the Île de la Cité, and the other Île Saint-Louis. Île de la Cité is the most renowned of the two, as it is home to the cathedral of Notre Dame.

9 Greek tourist destination : CORFU

Corfu is an island in the very northwest of Greece, and is located in the Ionian Sea. Corfu is a very, very popular vacation destination for European tourists, particularly those from the UK, Scandinavia and Germany.

10 Part of a squash court : WALL

Squash is a racket sport that is similar to racquetball, with the latter being more common here in the US. Squash is derived from the older sport of racquets, and was introduced around 1830 by students at Harrow School in London. It was originally called squash racquets as the first ball used was a racquets ball that was punctured. It was very, very squashable and much softer than that used in the parent game.

12 Arnaz of “I Love Lucy” : DESI

Desi Arnaz was famous for his turbulent marriage to Lucille Ball. Arnaz was a native of Cuba, and was from a privileged family. His father was Mayor of Santiago and served in the Cuban House of Representatives. However, the family had to flee to Miami after the 1933 revolt led by Batista.

13 Part of a coding conditional : ELSE

In the world of computer programming, an “if-then-else” construct is a type of conditional statement. The idea is that IF a particular condition is met THEN a particular action is executed. The additional ELSE statement can be used to define an alternative action.

21 Field of mathematics pioneered by John von Neumann : GAME THEORY

Game theory is a mathematical theory used to test strategies for maximizing gains and minimizing losses within a “game”. That “game” might be poker or bridge, or perhaps global nuclear war …

24 Word with cash or holy : … COW

On a farm, a dairy cow can produce a steady supply of milk, with relatively little maintenance. In the world of business, by analogy, a “cash cow” is an operation that delivers a steady stream of profits, with relatively little investment.

25 Take a risk when taking a polygraph test : LIE

We are most familiar with the word “polygraph” as the generic name for a lie detector instrument. This usage began in 1921, although the term had been around since the end of the 18th century. Back then, a polygraph was a mechanical device used to make multiple copies as something was written or drawn. Famously, Thomas Jefferson used a polygraph to preserve copies of letters that he wrote to correspondents.

27 Golfer’s challenge : TRAP

Sand traps on a golf course are referred to as bunkers on the other side of the Atlantic.

28 Kotb of “Today” : HODA

Hoda Kotb is an Egyptian-American television journalist who is perhaps best known as a co-host of the NBC morning show “Today”. She is also the author of the bestselling autobiography “Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee”.

33 Hawaii’s state bird : NENE

The nene is a bird that is native to Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful. The nene was named State Bird of Hawaii in 1957.

39 Uncle ___ : SAM
42 Whom 39-Down wants, in a classic poster : YOU

The Uncle Sam personification of the United States was first used during the War of 1812. The “Uncle Sam” term was so widely accepted that even the Germans used it during WWII, choosing the code word “Samland” for “America” in intelligence communiques.

The famous “I want YOU for the US Army” poster dates back to 1917. It depicts Uncle Sam pointing to the viewer, encouraging young men to report to the nearest recruiting station. The poster was designed by J. M. Flagg and is based on the similar British poster showing Lord Kitchener that was first issued three years earlier.

43 Some SiriusXM workers, for short : DJS

XM Satellite Radio used to be in competition with Sirius Satellite Radio but the FCC allowed the two companies to merge in 2008 forming SiriusXM Radio.

44 Pen tip : NIB

“Nib” is a Scottish variant of the Old English word “neb”, with both meaning the beak of a bird. This usage of “nib” as a beak dates back to the 14th century, with “nib” meaning the tip of a pen or quill coming a little later, in the early 1600s.

50 Plains dwelling : 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.

51 Auto takebacks, for short : REPOS

Repossession (repo)

55 Kind of energy : SOLAR

Solar panels are arrays of solar cells that make use of what’s known as the photovoltaic effect. We are more likely to have learned about the photoelectric effect in school, in which electrons were ejected from the surface of some materials when it was exposed to light or other forms of radiation. The photovoltaic effect is related but different. Instead of being electrons ejected from the surface, in the photovoltaic effect electrons move around in the material creating a difference in voltage.

60 Sign before Virgo : LEO

Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac. People born from July 23 to August 22 are Leos.

62 Corporate V.I.P. : CEO

Chief executive officer (CEO)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Equine animal, in rural dialect : HOSS
5 Caper : ANTIC
10 Take steps (into) : WADE
14 One of two in the McDonald’s logo : ARCH
15 Italian name of six popes : PAOLO
16 Ice skating maneuver : AXEL
17 Dr. Zhivago’s love : LARA
18 Rapture : SHEER BLISS
20 Projecting rim of a metal beam : FLANGE
22 Fake eyelash, in slang : FALSIE
23 Org. whose members may be fore-warned? : PGA
24 With this puzzle’s central black squares, ecstasy : CLOUD (9)
27 Heating unit : THERM
29 Heating fuel : OIL
30 Hogs : SWINE
35 Perez whose film debut was in “Do the Right Thing” : ROSIE
36 Join at the altar : WED
37 ___ Island (part of Brooklyn that isn’t an island) : CONEY
38 “Let’s be ___ about this” : ADULTS
40 Mindless : INANE
41 Affectionate nickname for the “Father of the Symphony” : PAPA HAYDN
45 Beats by a whisker : EDGES
46 Face With Tears of Joy, for one : EMOJI
47 Keanu Reeves’s role in “The Matrix” : NEO
48 Houston ballplayer : ASTRO
52 Kind of computer port, in brief : USB
53 Protection for vampire hunters : CROSS
56 Bar “where everybody knows your name” : CHEERS
58 Steadfastly maintained, as one’s beliefs : HELD TO
59 Comforting mental state : HAPPY PLACE
63 Like a soldier who might be court-martialed : AWOL
64 Dunkable cookie : OREO
65 Sign up for more : RENEW
66 Nickname for Grandma : NANA
67 Volume from Horace : ODES
68 Dingbats : YO-YOS
69 Colorist : DYER

Down

1 Either part of a yin-yang symbol, e.g. : HALF
2 Unwritten exam : ORAL
3 Manages to gather, as cash : SCRAPES UP
4 Heaven : SHANGRI-LA
5 Church recess : APSE
6 “I’ll pass” : NAH
7 Something a wedge often leaves exposed : TOE
8 Paris’s ___ de la Cité : ILE
9 Greek tourist destination : CORFU
10 Part of a squash court : WALL
11 Center of rotation : AXIS
12 Arnaz of “I Love Lucy” : DESI
13 Part of a coding conditional : ELSE
19 Research findings that can’t be reproduced, say : BAD SCIENCE
21 Field of mathematics pioneered by John von Neumann : GAME THEORY
24 Word with cash or holy : … COW
25 Take a risk when taking a polygraph test : LIE
26 Aged : OLD
27 Golfer’s challenge : TRAP
28 Kotb of “Today” : HODA
31 Realm of marvels : WONDERLAND
32 Pleasantly : IN A GOOD WAY
33 Hawaii’s state bird : NENE
34 Peepers : EYES
39 Uncle ___ : SAM
42 Whom 39-Down wants, in a classic poster : YOU
43 Some SiriusXM workers, for short : DJS
44 Pen tip : NIB
48 Cause for a blessing : ACHOO!
49 Pottery fragment : SHARD
50 Plains dwelling : TEPEE
51 Auto takebacks, for short : REPOS
54 A flat one is best to skip : STONE
55 Kind of energy : SOLAR
57 Lively for one’s age : SPRY
58 Chops down : HEWS
60 Sign before Virgo : LEO
61 Unspecified quantity : ANY
62 Corporate V.I.P. : CEO

10 thoughts on “1222-20 NY Times Crossword 22 Dec 20, Tuesday”

    1. This comment was actually from Ron F. Hit the send accidentally before entering my name. Guess I was excited about being 3 seconds faster than @Bill.

  1. 21:28, but with good reason… My 28 year old daughter and I were solving the puzzle simultaneously on two separate devices, and I was regularly being asked “is this right?”, so many interruptions, but I would only give yes/no answers. That said, many observations: My daughter works for NASA, “LEM” is not a term they use for the lunar lander, it’s just “LM”. She also pointed out the black square 9, resulted in the puzzle not being rotationally symmetric…a point she learned from watching a YouTube video of the “Try Guys” trying to solve one Monday puzzle while David Kwong solves four.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WF4GvaInHGU

    I think I’ve got her hooked 🙂

  2. 12:00. Most was straight forward but for unknown reasons I had most of my trouble in the top middle. Fat fingers didn’t help.

  3. 7:59, no errors.

    Earlier, I tried to watch the video DuncanR mentions and was presented with an apparently endless string of commercials. Anyone else have this problem?

    (I did see enough of the video to notice that David Kwong sounds a lot like Will Shortz. Is the NYT crossword editor an alien shapeshifter? Are we being subjected to an intergalactic intelligence test? Are we passing?)

  4. 7:46. Like Alaska Steve, the upper middle was the last to fall. The only other misstep I had was misspelling SHANGRa-LA at first.

    I’ve always been fascinated by GAME THEORY, decision theory, Prisoner’s Dilemma (just remember your best option is to betray the other guy) etc etc. I’ve even been crass enough to use it in relationships in the past. I’ve read several books on the subject. In fact, I’ve read so much I could write a book about it. Oh wait….

    Best –

  5. 17:37 no errors…I thought LEM was Lunar Exploration Module.
    I wanted to put Crete for 9D but that didn’t work.
    It took a while to see the “nine” but it didn’t really help the solve anyway.
    Stay safe😀

  6. 9:27, no errors. Nice grid construction. I, too, remember the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module). I also recall it referred to as simply the ‘Lunar Module’, but not the ‘LM’. I was able to watch about 3/4 of the linked video before I completely lost interest in whether the 4 ‘Try Guys’ could beat Mr. Kwong. Far too much JIBBERJABBER.

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