1223-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Juliana Tringali Golden
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Weather Balloons

The circles in the grid represent BALLOONS, and each contains a kind of WEATHER:

  • 40A Carriers of meteorological instruments … as suggested by this puzzle’s theme? : WEATHER BALLOONS
  • 18A Interval for a scheduled blastoff : LAUNCH WINDOW
  • 11D Puts back in its original state, as a videotape : REWINDS
  • 20A 10th and 11th, e.g. : EXTRA INNINGS
  • 4D High rollers? : EL TRAINS
  • 57A Rend : TEAR ASUNDER
  • 53D Scary cry on a beach : TSUNAMI
  • 63A Wonder-ful product? : SLICED BREAD
  • 56D Enemy of Antony, in ancient Rome : CICERO

Bill’s time: 7m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Mint ___ : JULEP

A mint julep is a bourbon-based cocktail that is associated with the American South, and with the Kentucky Derby in particular. If you’d like to make yourself a mint julep, one recipe is:

  • 3 oz of Bourbon
  • 4-6 sprigs of mint
  • granulated sugar to taste

6 Franz who wrote “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us” : KAFKA

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Prague, then part of Bohemia and today the capital of the Czech Republic. Kafka is known as one of the greatest novelists who worked in the German language, and even has an adjective named after him. Something that is “kafkaesque” is senseless, disorienting and may have menacing complexity. As it was for many great artists, Kafka’s fame came after his death when much of his work was published.

11 Dream time, in brief : REM

“REM” is an acronym standing for “rapid eye movement”. REM sleep takes up 20-25% of the sleeping hours and is the period associated with one’s most vivid dreams.

15 “… the bombs bursting ___” : IN AIR

The words “bombs bursting in air” come from “The Star-Spangled Banner” written by Francis Scott Key.

23 Westernmost country in continental Afr. : SEN

The Republic of Senegal is a country on the far western coast of Africa. For many years Senegal was a French colony, gaining independence in 1960. The capital of Senegal is Dakar. Dakar is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, thus making it the westernmost capital on the African mainland.

26 Blizzards are produced in them, familiarly : DQS

Soft serve ice cream was developed by John McCullough in 1938. McCullough was able to get his new dessert carried by a local ice cream store in Illinois. He and the store owner became so swamped with sales that they opened a store specifically built around the product in Joliet, Illinois, hence creating the first Dairy Queen outlet. There are now over 5,700 Dairy Queen franchises in 19 countries. We’ve even got one in Ireland …

29 Press (down) : TAMP

To tamp is to pack down tightly by tapping. “Tamp” was originally used specifically to describe the action of packing down sand or dirt around an explosive prior to detonation.

36 They intersect in Montréal : RUES

In France, one might drive along a “rue” (road) through “une ville” (a town).

The original name of Montreal was “Ville-Marie”, meaning “City of Mary”. “Ville-Marie” is now the name of a borough in the city, the borough which includes the downtown area and “Old Montreal”. The present-day city covers most of the Island of Montreal (in French, “Île de Montréal”) that is located where the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers meet. The name “Montreal” comes from the three-headed hill that dominates the island and is called “Mount Royal”.

38 ___ Paulo : SAO

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil. It is also the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world. This is partly driven by the horrendous traffic jams in São Paulo, but also by the wealthy having a very real fear of being kidnapped on the city’s streets.

40 Carriers of meteorological instruments … as suggested by this puzzle’s theme? : WEATHER BALLOONS

Meteorology is the science dealing with weather and weather conditions. The term “meteorology” comes into English via French from the Greek “meteoron” meaning “thing high up” and “-logia” meaning “treatment of”.

44 Cloth that goes to waist? : OBI

The sash worn as part of traditional Japanese dress is known as an obi. The obi can be tied at the back in what is called a butterfly knot. The term “obi” is also used for the thick cotton belts that are an essential part of the outfits worn by practitioners of many martial arts. The color of the martial arts obi signifies the wearer’s skill level.

47 Lawless figure with legendary fighting skills : XENA

The Xena character, played by New Zealander Lucy Lawless, was introduced in a made-for-TV movie called “Hercules and the Amazon Women”. Lawless reprised the role in a series called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys”. Xena became so popular that a series was built around her character, with Lawless retained for the title role. The fictional Xena supposedly came from the “non-fictional” Greek city of Amphipolis.

49 Office linkup : LAN

Local area network (LAN)

50 Repeated things in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” : PEES

The earliest written version of the “Peter Piper” nursery rhyme and tongue twister dates back to 1813 London:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

A peck is a unit of dry volume, equivalent to two gallons. Four pecks then make up a bushel.

52 Worker for a hosp., maybe : EMT

An emergency medical technician (EMT) usually takes a patient to an emergency room (ER).

54 Gradually faster, in mus. : ACCEL

Accelerando, abbreviated to “accel.”, is a musical direction to speed up the tempo.

63 Wonder-ful product? : SLICED BREAD

Wonder Bread was introduced in 1921 by the Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis. Wonder Bread was introduced as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped”. The loaves were unsliced back then, with the sliced version being introduced nationally in the 1930s. It was the “wonder” of this sliced bread that eventually led to the idiom “the best thing since sliced bread”.

65 Locale of 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle : ZAIRE

The African nation once called Zaire is a neighbor of Rwanda. The genocide and war in Rwanda spilled over into Zaire in 1996, with the conflict escalating into what is now called the First Congo War. As part of the war’s fallout there was a regime change, and in 1997 Zaire became the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Rumble in the Jungle was the celebrated 1974 fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman that took place in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was set in Zaire because of financial arrangements between promoter Don King and Zaire’s President Mobutu Seko. Ali coined the term “rope-a-dope” to describe his incredibly successful strategy in the contest. From the second round onwards, Ali adopted a protected stance on the ropes letting Foreman pound him with blows to the body and head, with Ali using his arms to dissipate the power of the punches. He kept this up until the eighth round, and then opened up and downed the exhausted Foreman with a left-right combination. I hate boxing but I have to say, that was an interesting fight …

67 Absinthe flavorer : ANISE

Absinthe is an alcoholic spirit that is distilled from various plants and herbs, including wormwood, anise and fennel. Absinthe was banned in the US in 1915 as it was deemed to be an addictive psychoactive drug. However, the accepted opinion today seems to be that absinthe is no more addictive or dangerous than any other spirit.

Down

1 Malarkey : JIVE

It’s not really known how the word “malarkey” came to mean “lies and exaggeration”. What is known is that “Malarkey” is also used as a family name.

2 Pioneering computer operating system : UNIX

Unix is a computer operating system that was developed at Bell Labs in 1969. The initial name for the project was Uniplexed Information and Computing Service (Unics), and this evolved over time into “Unix”.

4 High rollers? : EL TRAINS

Elevated railroad (El)

7 Stands up for dustpans, say: Abbr. : ANAG

Here are some of my favorite anagrams:

  • “Dormitory” and “dirty room”
  • “Elvis” and “lives”
  • “The eyes” and “they see”
  • “Eleven plus two” and “twelve plus one”

8 Inspiration for “Damn Yankees” : FAUST

In the musical show “Damn Yankees”, the title refers to the New York Yankees baseball team that dominated the sport in the fifties. That said, the show tells the story of a man who sells his soul to help his beloved Washington Senators team beat the Yankees and win the pennant. So, “Damn Yankees” is yet another version of the classic German legend of “Faust”. The show was written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, a production that turned out to be a very successful follow-up to their prior hit, “The Pajama Game”. The future was looking really rosy for Adler and Ross but, sadly, Jerry Ross died of obstructive lung disease only a few weeks after “Damn Yankees” opened on Broadway in 1955. He was just 29 years old.

12 Barbra Streisand collection? : EGOT

The acronym “EGOT” stands for “Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony”, and is a reference to performers who have won all four awards. Also known as the “Showbiz Award Grand Slam”, there are relatively few individuals who have been so honored. The first five to do so were:

  1. Richard Rodgers in 1962
  2. Helen Hayes in 1977
  3. Rita Moreno in 1977
  4. John Gielgud in 1991
  5. Audrey Hepburn in 1994 (posthumously)

Barbra Streisand has recorded 31 top-ten albums since 1963, more than any other female recording artist. In fact, she has had an album in the top ten for the last five decades, a rare achievement in itself.

19 ASDFGHJKL;’, on a keyboard : HOME ROW

The home keys on a typewriter keyboard are in the “home row”. On a QWERTY keyboard, the home row keys are ASDFJKL;. They are known as the home keys because typists are trained to return their fingers to these keys after pressing other keys.

26 Long-running sci-fi show, for short : DR WHO

The iconic science-fiction television show “Doctor Who” first aired in 1963 on the BBC, and relaunched in 2005. The relaunched series is produced in-house by the BBC in Cardiff in Wales, the location that is the setting of the successful “Doctor Who” spin-off called “Torchwood”. The new show is about the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood Institute which investigates incidents involving extraterrestrials. Why “Torchwood”? Well, “Torchwood” is an anagram of “Doctor Who”.

27 Contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” : QUEEN

RuPaul is a famous drag queen who has developed a diverse career beyond performing on stage. He works as an actor, model, author and a recording artist. Famously, RuPaul doesn’t mind whether one addresses him as “he” or as “she” …

You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.

He currently hosts his own reality TV show called “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, which is billed as a search for “America’s next drag superstar”.

28 Roebuck’s onetime business partner : SEARS

Richard Sears was a station agent on the railroad. In the late 1800s, he bought up a shipment of unwanted watches that was left at his depot and sold the watches to other agents up and down the line. He was so successful that he ordered more watches and then came up with the idea of using a catalog to promote more sales. The catalog idea caught on, and his success allowed Sears to open retail locations in 1925. By the mid 1900s, Sears was the biggest retailer in the whole country.

34 Ingredient in some medicinal teas : SENNA

Sennas are plants in the legume family. Historically, the pods and leaves of the senna plant have been used as a laxative.

35 Director Welles : ORSON

Orson Welles is perhaps best-remembered in the world of film for his role in 1941’s “Citizen Kane”. In the world of radio, Welles is known for directing and narrating 1938’s famous broadcast of “The War of the Worlds”, a broadcast that convinced many listeners that the Earth was indeed being invaded by aliens.

42 Lisa Simpson’s grandpa : ABE

In the animated TV show called “The Simpsons”, Grandpa Abe Simpson is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, the same actor who provides the voice for Homer.

51 Writer Gertrude : STEIN

Gertrude Stein was a great American writer who spent most of her life in France. Gertrude Stein met Alice B. Toklas in Paris in 1907, and the two were life partners until Stein died in 1946. Cleverly, Stein published her own memoir in 1933 but called the book “The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas”. It was to become Stein’s best selling title.

53 Scary cry on a beach : TSUNAMI

“Tsunami” is a Japanese word meaning “harbor wave”.

55 Royal role for Liz : CLEO

The 1963 movie “Cleopatra” really is an epic work. It was the highest grossing film of the year, taking in $26 million dollars at the box office, yet it still lost money. The original budget for the film was just $2 million, but so many things went wrong the final cost swelled to a staggering $44 million dollars, making it the second most expensive movie ever made (taking into account inflation). Elizabeth Taylor was supposed to earn a record amount of $1 million for the film, and ended up earning seven times that amount due to delays. But she paid dearly, as she became seriously ill during shooting and had to have an emergency tracheotomy to save her life. The scar in her throat can actually be seen in some of the shots in the film.

56 Enemy of Antony, in ancient Rome : CICERO

Cicero was a very influential senator in ancient Rome,in part due to his renowned ability to deliver a persuasive speech. His full name was Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Marc Antony rose to power in ancient Rome as the very loyal friend of Julius Caesar. Before he was assassinated, Caesar was the lover of Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt, and they had a child together. After Caesar’s death, Antony maintained a strong political alliance with Cleopatra, and in time the two became lovers. Antony and Cleopatra sided against Julius Caesar’s legal heir (later to be known as Augustus), leading to the Final War of the Roman Republic. Antony and Cleopatra were defeated at the Battle of Actium, and soon after the lovers committed suicide. Antony stabbed himself with his sword, and Cleopatra used a venomous asp.

58 From Eden to the land of Nod, e.g. : EAST

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, after Cain murdered his brother Abel, he fled to the “Land of Nod” located “east of Eden” (from which John Steinbeck got the title for his celebrated novel “East of Eden”).

60 Product offering “round the clock protection” : DIAL

Dial was the first antibacterial soap introduced in the US. It was given the name “Dial” as it was touted as offering “round-the-clock” protection against any odors caused by perspiration.

61 Composer Satie : ERIK

Erik Satie was a French composer best known for his beautiful composition, the three “Gymnopédies”. I have tried so hard to appreciate other works by Satie but I find them so very different from the minimalist simplicity of the lyrical “Gymnopédies”.

64 Aid in protein synthesis : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Mint ___ : JULEP
6 Franz who wrote “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us” : KAFKA
11 Dream time, in brief : REM
14 Everything together : IN ALL
15 “… the bombs bursting ___” : IN AIR
16 I : EGO
17 Prospect : VISTA
18 Interval for a scheduled blastoff : LAUNCH WINDOW
20 10th and 11th, e.g. : EXTRA INNINGS
22 Serves and receives, say : HOSTS
23 Westernmost country in continental Afr. : SEN
24 Quick haircut : TRIM
26 Blizzards are produced in them, familiarly : DQS
29 Press (down) : TAMP
32 Extremely : EVER SO
36 They intersect in Montréal : RUES
38 ___ Paulo : SAO
39 Kind of planning : CAREER
40 Carriers of meteorological instruments … as suggested by this puzzle’s theme? : WEATHER BALLOONS
43 Immediately following : HEREON
44 Cloth that goes to waist? : OBI
45 Overindulger of the grape : WINO
46 Beginnings : ONSETS
47 Lawless figure with legendary fighting skills : XENA
49 Office linkup : LAN
50 Repeated things in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” : PEES
52 Worker for a hosp., maybe : EMT
54 Gradually faster, in mus. : ACCEL
57 Rend : TEAR ASUNDER
63 Wonder-ful product? : SLICED BREAD
65 Locale of 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle : ZAIRE
66 ___ Honor : HER
67 Absinthe flavorer : ANISE
68 Kind of account : EMAIL
69 “___-hoo!” : YOO
70 Speeches that go off the rails : RANTS
71 Smooth and lustrous : SILKY

Down

1 Malarkey : JIVE
2 Pioneering computer operating system : UNIX
3 Word with dance or chance : LAST …
4 High rollers? : EL TRAINS
5 World : PLANET
6 Place for a firing : KILN
7 Stands up for dustpans, say: Abbr. : ANAG
8 Inspiration for “Damn Yankees” : FAUST
9 Family : KIN
10 Like a newspaper’s morgue files : ARCHIVAL
11 Puts back in its original state, as a videotape : REWINDS
12 Barbra Streisand collection? : EGOT
13 Does a landscaper’s job : MOWS
19 ASDFGHJKL;’, on a keyboard : HOME ROW
21 More or less : IN A SENSE
25 Premium movie theater seat : RECLINER
26 Long-running sci-fi show, for short : DR WHO
27 Contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” : QUEEN
28 Roebuck’s onetime business partner : SEARS
30 Bang up, e.g. : MAR
31 Alternative to a street address : PO BOX
33 Grease up again : RE-OIL
34 Ingredient in some medicinal teas : SENNA
35 Director Welles : ORSON
37 Saturated (in) : STEEPED
41 Where drinks may be charged to a room : HOTEL BAR
42 Lisa Simpson’s grandpa : ABE
48 Wows : AMAZES
51 Writer Gertrude : STEIN
53 Scary cry on a beach : TSUNAMI
54 Like most fireplace grates : ASHY
55 Royal role for Liz : CLEO
56 Enemy of Antony, in ancient Rome : CICERO
58 From Eden to the land of Nod, e.g. : EAST
59 Fruit drinks : ADES
60 Product offering “round the clock protection” : DIAL
61 Composer Satie : ERIK
62 Trust : RELY
64 Aid in protein synthesis : RNA

19 thoughts on “1223-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 20, Wednesday”

  1. 13:43. Didn’t catch on to the rebus at first. Had SHARK for 53D and NERO then CATO for 56D before more of the fill made me realize the rebuses. The X for 47A led me to XMEN but the crosses corrected that. I got the Lucy Lawless reference once I read Bill’s explanation.

    With rebuses on Weds, what with Thurs bring?

  2. 40:34 Day 2 of working the puzzle in parallel with my daughter. After I told her that the Wednesday puzzle is sometimes hard, but not like Thursday that usually has some kind of trick, like a rebus, what do the constructors do? Throw a rebus in on a Wednesday….just make a liar out of me! Props to her for sticking it out to the finish(it took her over an hour). Took me a while to accept a rebus on a Wednesday, but “sliced bread” finally broke it open.

    1. I looked back and the Wednesday Nov 11 puzzle was also a rebus, but it also had circles for the rebus and they were all the same with a PP in them. So a bit easier than today’s. Maybe that’s the clue – Weds with circles just might be a rebus.

      Kudos to your daughter for persevering.

  3. 17:25. Got the theme right away with EXT RAIN NINGS. I was hoping for WIND, RAIN, SLEET and SNOW, but oh well.

    I had a physics teacher in high school who said all men were meteorologists. They all look at women and try to determine weather (whether). It works better said out loud rather than written…

    Here’s my own recipe for a mint JULEP: Pour 3 ounces of bourbon into a glass of ice, and then…..uhhh…..you’re done.

    Best –

  4. Jim, if you’re using the NYT Crossword App, there should be a key on the lower left of your keyboard that says “more”. Click on that, then click on “rebus”, that will highlight the active square, at which point you can enter multiple letters of symbols.

  5. 13:27, no errors on a grid without circles. Interesting to see if us syndicated solvers are going to get handicapped.

  6. No errors and no circles on the printed version. Felt like a Friday.
    Got stuck on 56D. Had CATO for a long time. Then CIRO didn’t work….
    Could 63A be SLID BREAD??? nah!

    Must be SLICED BREAD. oh CICERO it must be. I started to question where the circle might be.???

  7. No errors here. The syndicated version had the circles in place. I can see where it would have made things difficult otherwise.

  8. 41:16 no errors…my paper had the circles but this is anything but a Wednesday puzzle IMO.
    @anonymous…maybe unsliced bread?
    Stay safe.
    I spent an hour before I got on a local COVID website only to be told there were no appointments available within 30 miles of my zip code …hope you have better luck.

  9. 18:18, no errors. Fortunately, my syndicated puzzle did have the circles. Difficult time getting in sync with the setter today. Initial reflex for 53D was to enter SHARK, before TSUNAMI. Did not realize that Wonder Bread’s initial ‘claim to fame’ was SLICED BREAD. Just remember it as the extremely light, soft, fluffy bread that my mother made my sandwiches from (when we could afford this higher priced bread).

  10. No errors but this was a challenge indeed. Biggest problem for me was when I ended up with EGOT for the Barbra Streisand entry. Of course, I did not recognize it as a word. Pondered over that one for a long time. Good to learn about its meaning.

  11. Tsunami is not a weather phenomena. They are caused by under ocean earthquakes which creates the ‘tidal’ wave or Tsunami. This is wrong.

    1. Uh, John … I think you’re missing the point here. The entries “EL TRAINS”, “REWINDS”, and “CICERO” have nothing to do with weather, either, and the theme doesn’t imply that any of them, including “TSUNAMI”, do.

      I suppose one could argue that “SUN” isn’t exactly a weather phenomenon, but that involves a lot higher degree of nit-pickery than I am willing to indulge in … 😜.

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