1228-20 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 20, Monday

Constructed by: Alan Massengill & Andrea Carla Michaels
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Tip-Top

Themed answers are all in the down-direction, and each includes a synonym of “summit” at the “summit” (start):

  • 3A Wile E. Coyote’s supplier : ACME CORPORATION
  • 5A Athlete’s goal in competition : PEAK PERFORMANCE
  • 9A Absolute chicness : HEIGHT OF FASHION
  • 11A Quaint greeting : TOP OF THE MORNING

Bill’s time: 5m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Health resorts : SPAS

The word “spa” migrated into English from Belgium, as “Spa” is the name of a municipality in the east of the country that is famous for its healing hot springs. The name “Spa” comes from the Walloon word “espa” meaning “spring, fountain”.

5 Georgia fruit : PEACH

The US state of Georgia has two nicknames: the Peach State, and the Empire State of the South.

10 Tuxedo shirt fastener : STUD

Apparently, the style of men’s evening dress called a “tuxedo” was first worn to a country club event in 1886 in New York. The use of a dark dinner jacket without tails became fashionable at the club with the members, and the tradition spread from there. The country club was located in Tuxedo Park, New York, giving the style of dress its name.

15 Person with a microphone : EMCEE

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

18 Company behind Battlezone and Asteroids : ATARI

Founded in 1972, electronics and video game manufacturer Atari was once the fastest-growing company in US history. However, Atari never really recovered from the video game industry crash of 1983.

19 “Wheel of Fortune” play : SPIN

Contestants have been spinning the “Wheel of Fortune” since the game show first aired in 1975.

20 Late “Jeopardy!” host Alex : TREBEK

Alex Trebek was the host of “Jeopardy!” from the launch of the syndicated version of the game show in 1984 until his passing in 2020. Trebek missed just one episode during that time, when he and host of “Wheel of Fortune” Pat Sajak swapped roles in 1997 as an April Fool’s joke. In 2014, Trebek picked up the Guinness World Record for hosting the most episodes of a game show.

24 Quibbles : CARPS

The word “carp” used to mean simply “talk” back in the 13th century, with its roots in the Old Norwegian “karpa” meaning “to brag”. A century later, the Latin word “carpere” meaning “to slander” influenced the use of “to carp” so that it came to mean “to find fault with”.

27 Stand-up comic Margaret : CHO

Margaret Cho is a very successful stand-up comedian, and also a fashion designer with her own line of clothing. Cho acts as well, and you might have seen her in the John Travolta/Nicolas Cage movie “Face/Off” in which she played John Travolta’s FBI colleague.

30 Approx. when to get to the airport for a pickup : ETA

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

31 Unknown, on a sched. : TBA

Something not yet on the schedule (“sked” or “sched.”) is to be advised/announced (TBA).

34 German “mister” : HERR

In German, a “Herr” (Mr.) is married to a “Frau” (Mrs.), and they live together in a “Haus” (house).

46 Internet image file, familiarly : GIF

A bitmap is an image file format used to store digital images. Basically, each pixel in a bitmap file is stored as a “bit” of information, hence the name “bitmap”. In 1987, CompuServe introduced a new type of image file called the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF). A GIF image takes the same information as a bitmap and then compresses it, resulting in a smaller file size. However, during compression the image may lose some resolution. The GIF format also handles short video clips, usually animations.

47 Cyclops and Wolverine, for two : X-MEN

The X-Men are a team of superheroes created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics. Nowadays, the X-Men are perhaps best known as the subject of a series of movies, with Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine and Patrick Stewart playing Professor Xavier (or simply “Professor X”). Some very respected actors have also played the villains whom the X-Men have to battle. For example, the enemy called Magneto is portrayed by veteran Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellen.

48 Title for Paul McCartney or Elton John : SIR

The ex-Beatles bass player’s full name is Sir James Paul McCartney. “Paul” was knighted for his services to music in 1997.

Elton John’s real name is Reginald Dwight. Sir Elton was knighted in 1998, not for his music per se, but for his charitable work. He founded his own Elton John AIDS Foundation back in 1992.

49 “The Lord of the Rings” baddie : ORC

According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids that live in his fantasy world of Middle-earth (also called “Mordor”). They are very ugly and dirty, and are fond of eating human flesh.

51 ___ Castellaneta, voice of Homer Simpson : DAN

Dan Castellaneta is an actor and screenwriter best known these days for voicing Homer Simpson and many other characters on television’s “The Simpsons”. Homer is a famous slob, rarely exercising, guzzling beer and eating lots of meat. Castellaneta is the exact opposite, a vegetarian teetotaller who practices T’ai Chi.

53 “To a Skylark,” e.g. : ODE

“To a Skylark” is an 1820 poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. The opening line “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit” is the inspiration used by Noël Coward for the title of his famous comic play called “Blithe Spirit”.

56 Grouchy Muppet : OSCAR

Oscar the Grouch is the Muppet that lives in a garbage can. Oscar’s persona comes from various sources. He is named after Oscar Brand who was one of the board members of the Children’s Television Workshop, the backers for “Sesame Street” as the Muppets were being developed in the sixties. Oscar’s personality was inspired by an angry waiter that once served Jim Henson (father of the Muppets). The voice was modeled on a grumpy New York cab driver encountered one day by Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who brings Oscar to life.

61 Like Satan and some owls : HORNED

Satan is the bringer of evil and temptation in the Abrahamic religions. The name “Satan” is Hebrew for “adversary”.

The great horned owl is a large owl that is native to North and South America. Also called the tiger owl, it is the most common true owl in the region.

64 BBQ spoiler : RAIN

It is believed that our word “barbecue” (BBQ) comes from the Taíno people of the Caribbean in whose language “barbacoa” means “sacred fire pit”.

65 Supermodel Campbell : NAOMI

Naomi Campbell is a supermodel from England. There’s a lot of interest in Campbell’s life off the runway, as she is known to have an explosive temper and has been charged with assault more than once. Her dating life is much-covered in the tabloids as well, and she has been romantically linked in the past with Mike Tyson and Robert De Niro.

67 DVR system : TIVO

TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful digital video recorder (DVR).

70 Rare blood type, for short : O-NEG

Here is an approximate distribution of blood types across the US population:

  • O-positive: 38 percent
  • O-negative: 7 percent
  • A-positive: 34 percent
  • A-negative: 6 percent
  • B-positive: 9 percent
  • B-negative: 2 percent
  • AB-positive: 3 percent
  • AB-negative: 1 percent

71 “The Brady Bunch” threesome : SONS

The famous sitcom “The Brady Bunch” originally aired from 1969 to 1974 on ABC. If you ever see a movie called “Yours, Mine and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda (and remade with Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo), you might notice a similarity in storyline. It was because of the success of the 1968 movie that ABC decided to go ahead with the development of “The Brady Bunch”.

72 German industrial hub : ESSEN

Essen is a large industrial city located on the River Ruhr in western Germany. The city experienced major population growth in the mid-1800s that was driven by the iron works established by the Krupp family.

73 Shrek, for one : OGRE

Before “Shrek” was a successful movie franchise and Broadway musical, it was a children’s picture book called “Shrek!” that was authored and illustrated by William Steig. The title “Shrek!” came from the German/Yiddish word Schreck, meaning “fear” or “terror”.

Down

2 Jack who once hosted “The Tonight Show” : PAAR

Jack Paar was most famous as the host of “The Tonight Show”, from 1957 to 1962. When he died in 2004, “Time” magazine wrote that Paar was “the fellow who split talk show history into two eras: “Before Paar and Below Paar”. Very complimentary …

3 Wile E. Coyote’s supplier : ACME CORPORATION

The Acme Corporation is a fictional company used mainly by Looney Tunes, and within the Looney Tunes empire it appears mostly in “Road Runner” cartoons. Wile E. Coyote is always receiving a new piece of gear from Acme designed to finally capture the Road Runner, but the equipment always leads to his downfall.

4 Biblical land with a queen : SHEBA

Sheba is referenced in the Bible several times. The Queen of Sheba is mentioned as someone who traveled to Jerusalem to behold the fame of King Solomon. No one knows for sure where the kingdom of Sheba was located, although there is evidence that it was actually the ancient Semitic civilization of Saba. The Sabeans lived in what today is Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula.

6 911 call respondent, for short : EMT

Emergency medical technician (EMT)

The first use of a national emergency phone number was in 1937 in the UK, where the number 999 was introduced to call emergency services. If you need emergency services in the UK or Ireland to this day, you have to dial 999. It’s not really clear why 911 became the emergency number in the US. The most credible suggestion (to me) is that when it was introduced by the FCC in 1967, it was a number that “fit” with the numbers already used by AT&T for free services (211-long distance; 411-information; 611-repair service).

7 Hail ___ (cry “Taxi!”) : A CAB

We call cabs “taxis”, a word derived from “taximeter cabs” that were introduced in London in 1907. A taximeter was an automated meter designed to record distance travelled and fare to be charged. The term “taximeter” evolved from “taxameter”, with “taxa” being Latin for “tax, charge”.

We call cabs “taxis”, a word derived from “taximeter cabs” that were introduced in London in 1907. A taximeter was an automated meter designed to record distance travelled and fare to be charged. The term “taximeter” evolved from “taxameter”, with “taxa” being Latin for “tax, charge”.

8 Cherry-colored : CERISE

The name for the red color that we know as “cerise” is the French word for “cherry”.

9 Absolute chicness : HEIGHT OF FASHION

“Chic” is a French word meaning “stylish”.

10 Malia Obama’s sister : SASHA

Sasha is the younger of the two Obama children, having been born in 2001. She was the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. moved in with his parents as a small infant. Sasha’s Secret Service codename is “Rosebud”, and her older sister Malia has the codename “Radiance”.

21 Tiny bit of work : ERG

An erg is a unit of mechanical work or energy. It is a small unit, with one joule comprising 10 million ergs. It has been suggested that an erg is about the amount of energy required for a mosquito to take off. The term comes from “ergon”, the Greek word for work.

25 One clapping at a circus? : SEAL

There are three families of seals. The first is the walrus family, the second the eared seals (like sea lions), and thirdly the earless seals (like elephant seals).

28 Model and TV host Klum : HEIDI

German-born Heidi Klum was married to the successful English singer, Seal. Klum is a talented lady and has built a multi-faceted career based on her early success as a model. She is the force behind the Bravo reality show called “Project Runway” that has been on the air since 2004. Klum has been nominated 4-5 times for an Emmy for her association with the show. Klum was also signed up as the official ambassador for Barbie in 2009, the 50th anniversary of the Barbie Doll, and for her service that year a Heidi Klum Barbie was produced. She has been adding a touch of class to the judging panel on the show “America’s Got Talent” from 2013 through 2020.

33 The devout do it on Yom Kippur : ATONE

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, and is also known as the Day of Atonement.

35 Big sporting goods retailer : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

37 Found groovy : DUG

The term “groovy” meaning “neat, cool” comes from the jazz slang phrase “in the groove”.

39 Honeycomb stuff : WAX

Honeybees create a structure within their nests called a honeycomb that is used to contain their larvae and also to store honey and pollen. The honeycomb comprises hexagonal cells made from wax.

42 Relative of Rex or Rover : FIDO

“Fido”, the name for many a dog, is Latin for “I trust”.

45 Choice on “Let’s Make a Deal” : DOOR

The game show “Let’s Make a Deal” first aired way back in 1963. For many years the show was hosted by Monty Hall, from 1963 until 1986, and again briefly in 1991. In more recent years, Wayne Brady took over as host in 2009.

50 Chocolate beans : CACAOS

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree. The seeds are very bitter and the traditional drink made with the seed was called “xocolatl” by the Aztecs, meaning “bitter water”. Our word “chocolate” comes from “xocolatl”.

52 Sgt., for one : NCO

A non-commissioned officer (NCO) might be a sergeant (sgt.) or a corporal (cpl.).

55 Amounts on Monopoly cards : RENTS

The commercial game of Monopoly is supposedly a remake of “The Landlord’s Game” created in 1903 by a Quaker woman named Lizzie Phillips. Phillips used her game as a tool to explain the single tax theory of American economist Henry George. The Landlord’s Game was first produced commercially in 1924. The incredibly successful derivative game called Monopoly was introduced in 1933 by Charles Darrow, who became a very rich man when Parker Brothers bought the rights to the game just two years later in 1935.

57 “Star Wars” droid, informally : ARTOO

Artoo’s proper name is R2-D2 (also “Artoo-Detoo”). R2-D2 is the smaller of the two famous droids from the “Star Wars” movies. British actor Kenny Baker, who stood just 3 ft 8 ins tall, was the man inside the R2-D2 droid for the first six of the “Star Wars” movies.

“Droid” is short for “android” and is used to describe a robot that resembles a human. The Latin word “androides” was used in English in the 18th century to mean “like a man”. Science fiction writers introduced us to “android” in the early 1950s.

59 Prefix meaning “super-tiny” : NANO-

The prefix “nano-” is used for units of one thousand-millionth part. “Nano-” comes from the Greek “nanos” meaning “dwarf”.

60 Male turkeys : TOMS

A male turkey is called a “tom”, taking its name from a “tomcat”. The inference is that like a tomcat, the male turkey is relatively wild and undomesticated, sexually promiscuous and frequently gets into fights. A female turkey is called a “hen”.

63 Onetime Venetian V.I.P. : DOGE

Doges were the elected chief magistrates of the former republics of Venice and Genoa.

The city of Venice (“Venezia” in Italian) in northeast Italy is built in a saltwater lagoon on the Adriatic Coast, on 117 small islands. The classic transportation along the waterways is the gondola, but this is really only used for tourists these days, as well as on ceremonial occasions. The locals rely on the motorized water-buses.

66 U.K. medal accepted and then returned by John Lennon, in brief : MBE

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry in the UK that was established in 1917 by King George V. There are five classes within the order, which are in descending seniority:

  • Knight Grand Cross (GBE)
  • Knight Commander (KBE)
  • Commander (CBE)
  • Officer (OBE)
  • Member (MBE)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Health resorts : SPAS
5 Georgia fruit : PEACH
10 Tuxedo shirt fastener : STUD
14 ___ and every : EACH
15 Person with a microphone : EMCEE
16 Finest-quality, informally : A-ONE
17 Word after pen or pet : … NAME
18 Company behind Battlezone and Asteroids : ATARI
19 “Wheel of Fortune” play : SPIN
20 Late “Jeopardy!” host Alex : TREBEK
22 V.I.P.s : BIG SHOTS
24 Quibbles : CARPS
26 Stack of papers : SHEAF
27 Stand-up comic Margaret : CHO
29 “___ whiz!” : GEE
30 Approx. when to get to the airport for a pickup : ETA
31 Unknown, on a sched. : TBA
34 German “mister” : HERR
36 “Gnarly, dude!” : RAD!
38 Bold response to a threat : OR WHAT?!
40 Ready for picking : RIPE
41 Written material of no consequence : FLUFF
43 Flying: Prefix : AERO-
44 Enthusiastic response to “Who wants candy?” : I DO, I DO!
46 Internet image file, familiarly : GIF
47 Cyclops and Wolverine, for two : X-MEN
48 Title for Paul McCartney or Elton John : SIR
49 “The Lord of the Rings” baddie : ORC
51 ___ Castellaneta, voice of Homer Simpson : DAN
53 “To a Skylark,” e.g. : ODE
54 Lure of a coffee shop : AROMA
56 Grouchy Muppet : OSCAR
58 Be sociable : INTERACT
61 Like Satan and some owls : HORNED
64 BBQ spoiler : RAIN
65 Supermodel Campbell : NAOMI
67 DVR system : TIVO
68 Shoestring woe : KNOT
69 Trio or quartet : COMBO
70 Rare blood type, for short : O-NEG
71 “The Brady Bunch” threesome : SONS
72 German industrial hub : ESSEN
73 Shrek, for one : OGRE

Down

1 Email outbox folder : SENT
2 Jack who once hosted “The Tonight Show” : PAAR
3 Wile E. Coyote’s supplier : ACME CORPORATION
4 Biblical land with a queen : SHEBA
5 Athlete’s goal in competition : PEAK PERFORMANCE
6 911 call respondent, for short : EMT
7 Hail ___ (cry “Taxi!”) : A CAB
8 Cherry-colored : CERISE
9 Absolute chicness : HEIGHT OF FASHION
10 Malia Obama’s sister : SASHA
11 Quaint greeting : TOP OF THE MORNING
12 Quart, liter or gallon : UNIT
13 Cozy retreats : DENS
21 Tiny bit of work : ERG
23 Brown, as a roast : SEAR
25 One clapping at a circus? : SEAL
27 Cuomo of CNN : CHRIS
28 Model and TV host Klum : HEIDI
32 Revealed, as one’s soul : BARED
33 The devout do it on Yom Kippur : ATONE
35 Big sporting goods retailer : REI
37 Found groovy : DUG
39 Honeycomb stuff : WAX
42 Relative of Rex or Rover : FIDO
45 Choice on “Let’s Make a Deal” : DOOR
50 Chocolate beans : CACAOS
52 Sgt., for one : NCO
55 Amounts on Monopoly cards : RENTS
57 “Star Wars” droid, informally : ARTOO
58 Really bugs : IRKS
59 Prefix meaning “super-tiny” : NANO-
60 Male turkeys : TOMS
62 Anytime at all : EVER
63 Onetime Venetian V.I.P. : DOGE
66 U.K. medal accepted and then returned by John Lennon, in brief : MBE

6 thoughts on “1228-20 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 20, Monday”

  1. 7:25 no issues. Just noticed all the synonyms were at the top of the “down” columns after reading the blog….duh….

  2. 6:54. A little late today. Forgot to even think about the theme. So sad to see Alex TREBEK’s passing, and nice to see him remembered in this puzzle. Jeopardy is still the best reality tv show ever IMO.

    Is it wrong that when I saw the clue “Honeycomb stuff”, I thought of the cereal?

    Best –

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