1229-20 NY Times Crossword 29 Dec 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Matthew Trout
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Fairy-Tale Ending

Themed answers are common phrases, each ENDING with an element in a FAIRY TALE:

  • 63A “Happily ever after” … or what 17-, 27-, 39- or 47-Across has? : FAIRY-TALE ENDING
  • 17A Xena, notably : WARRIOR PRINCESS
  • 27A Largest lizard on earth (up to 10 feet long) : KOMODO DRAGON
  • 39A Toronto landmark that’s the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere : CN TOWER
  • 47A Who sang the 1973 #1 hit “Midnight Train to Georgia” : GLADYS KNIGHT

Bill’s time: 5m 53s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Galileo, by birth : PISAN

Galileo Galilei may be the most famous son of the city of Pisa in Italy and was considered by many to have been the father of modern science. In the world of physics, Galileo postulated that objects of different masses would fall at the same rate provided they did so in a vacuum (so there was no air resistance). There is a story that he dropped two balls of different masses from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate this, but this probably never happened. Centuries later, Astronaut David Scott performed Galileo’s proposed experiment when he dropped a hammer and feather on the moon during the Apollo 15 mission and we all saw the objects hit the moon surface, at exactly the same time.

14 ___ vera : ALOE

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in relatively dry climates. The plant’s leaves are full of biologically-active compounds that have been studied extensively. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in herbal medicine, mainly for topical treatment of wounds.

15 Frosty coating : RIME

Rime is the beautiful coating of ice that forms on surfaces like roofs, trees and grass, when cold water freezes instantly under the right conditions.

17 Xena, notably : WARRIOR PRINCESS

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.

20 Show known for its cold opens, for short : SNL

A cold open of a TV show or movie is a scene that is shown before the title sequence or opening credits. Cold opens became quite the rage on television starting in the mid-sixties.

23 Half of a Monopoly pair : DIE

The numbers on dice are arranged so that the opposite faces add up to seven. Given this arrangement, the numbers 1, 2 and 3 all meet at a common vertex. There are two ways of arranging the 1, 2 and 3 around the common vertex, a so-called right-handed die (clockwise 1-2-3) or a left-handed die (counterclockwise 1-2-3). Traditionally, dice used in Western cultures are right-handed, whereas Chinese dice are left-handed. Quite interesting …

25 “Smart as a whip” and “sharp as a tack” : SIMILES

A simile is a figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things that are unalike. For example, a person might be described as “cute as a kitten” or as “busy as a bee”.

27 Largest lizard on earth (up to 10 feet long) : KOMODO DRAGON

The large lizard called a Komodo dragon is so named because it is found on the island of Komodo (and others) in Indonesia. It can grow to a length of over 9 1/2 feet, so I guess that explains the dragon part of the name …

32 Mideast sultanate : OMAN

Oman lies on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is neighbored by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Oman is a monarchy, and the official name of the state is the Sultanate of Oman. All of the country’s legislative, executive and judiciary power resides with the hereditary sultan.

34 Looks lasciviously : OGLES

“Lascivious” is such an appropriate-sounding word, I always think. It means “lecherous, salacious”.

39 Toronto landmark that’s the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere : CN TOWER

When I last took the elevator to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto back in the eighties, it was the tallest freestanding structure in the world. It lost that title in 2007 during the construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the building which still has that honor. The CN Tower was built by the railway company Canadian National, which gave it the name. After “Canadian” National sold the tower in 1995, it has been known as “Canada’s” National Tower.

45 Funnyman Brooks : MEL

Mel Brooks’ real name is Melvin Kaminsky. Brooks is one of very few entertainers (there are only ten) who have won the “Showbiz Award Grand Slam” i.e. an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. He is in good company, as the list also includes the likes of Richard Rogers, Sir John Gielgud, Marvin Hamlisch and Audrey Hepburn.

47 Who sang the 1973 #1 hit “Midnight Train to Georgia” : GLADYS KNIGHT

Gladys Knight & the Pips performed together from 1953 to 1989. The Pips were founded around Gladys Knight, originally featuring her brother, sister and two cousins. The group took its name from yet another cousin, a cousin named “Pip”.

51 Request for payment : INVOICE

An invoice is an itemized bill. The term comes from the Middle French “envois” meaning “dispatch (of goods)”. The root verb is “envoyer”, which translates as “to send”.

55 Moscow turndown : NYET

“Nyet” is Russian for “no”, and “da” is Russian for “yes”.

Moscow is the capital of Russia. If one considers Europe to be all points west of the Ural Mountains, then Moscow is the most populous city on the European continent. Moscow also is home to more billionaires than any other city in the world, according to “Forbes” magazine. The city is named for the Moskva River which flows through Moscow. People from Moscow are referred to as Muscovites.

56 Skulls : CRANIA

The human skull is made up of two parts: the cranium (which encloses the brain) and the mandible (or “jawbone”).

66 “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” actress Kemper : ELLIE

Actress Ellie Kemper’s big break came with the role of Erin Hannon, a receptionist on the sitcom “The Office”. More recently, Kemper played the title role in the Netflix comedy series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a Netflix-made sitcom that was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (the latter worked with Fey on “30 Rock”). The title character, played by Ellie Kemper, is a young woman adjusting to life in New York City after she was rescued from an underground bunker in Indiana where she had been held for 15 years. I tried a few episodes and found that it didn’t really hold my attention. But, I may give it another go one day, as I hear good things …

67 Tablet released in 2010 : IPAD

The groundbreaking iPad was introduced by Apple in 2010. The iOS-based iPads dominated the market for tablet computers until 2013, when Android-based tablets (manufactured by several companies) took over the number-one spot.

68 Tribe that lent its name to a Nebraska county : OTOE

Otoe County is located in the southeast of Nebraska, on the border with Iowa and Missouri. The county seat is Nebraska City, the oldest incorporated city in the whole state.

71 “Auld Lang ___” : SYNE

The song “Auld Lang Syne” is a staple at New Year’s Eve (well, actually in the opening minutes of New Year’s Day). The words were written by Scottish poet Robbie Burns. The literal translation of “Auld Lang Syne” is “old long since”, but is better translated as “old times”. The sentiment of the song is “for old time’s sake”.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For days of auld lang syne

Down

1 Ten Commandments, e.g. : LAWS

According to the Book of Exodus, God inscribed the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses on Mount Sinai.

2 Pizazz : ELAN

Pizazz (also “pizzazz”) is energy, vitality. There’s a kind of cool thing about the “pizzazz” spelling, namely that it is the only 7-letter word in English that cannot be played in Scrabble. You can get close by using the Z-tile with the two blank tiles to get to three of the required four Zs, but there’s no way to get to the fourth Z.

4 ___ Spiegel (German newsmagazine) : DER

“Der Spiegel” is a very successful German magazine found on newsstands all over Europe. The name “Der Spiegel” translates from German into “the Mirror”.

5 Garment that may be “dropped” : TROU

“Trou” is short for “trousers”.

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

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

7 Ones usually found at home : 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.

8 Mother ___ : TERESA

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the city that is now called Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. At birth she was given the name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (“Gonxha” means “little flower” in Albanian). She left home at the age of 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto, and headed to Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Dublin, Ireland in order to learn English. Her goal was to teach in India, and English was the language used there for instruction by the nuns. After Mother Teresa passed away in 1997 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II. She was canonized by Pope Francis in 2016, and is now known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

9 Many a groan inducer : PUN

Here are some of my favorite puns:

  • A man died today when a pile of books fell on him. He only had his shelf to blame.
  • I hate negative numbers and will stop at nothing to avoid them.
  • I wasn’t going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
  • I should have been sad when my flashlight batteries died, but I was delighted.

12 Political division, metaphorically : AISLE

The concept of left-right politics started in France during the French Revolution. When members of France’s National Assembly convened in 1789, supporters of the King sat to the President’s right, and supporters of the revolution to the President’s left. The political terms “left” and “right” were then coined in the local media and have been used ever since.

24 Particle in a particle accelerator : ION

In a particle accelerator, the particles that are accelerated have to have a charge, and so are ions. The charged ions are subjected to high magnetic fields that propel them around a circular “racetrack”, before being smashed into something, just to see what happens!

27 Kind of nut : KOLA

The nut of the kola tree has a bitter taste, and is loaded with caffeine. Despite the taste, the nut is habitually chewed in some cultures, especially in West Africa where the tree is commonly found in the rainforest. Here in the US we best know the kola nut as a flavoring used in cola drinks.

29 Cable channel named for a talk show host : OWN

Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)

30 One of three in a Morse “S” : DOT

Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.

35 What the biblical Methuselah is famous for : LONGEVITY

Methuselah was the son of Enoch and the grandfather of Noah, and the man in the Bible who is reported to have lived the longest. Methuselah passed away seven days before the onset of the Great Flood, and tradition holds that he was 969 years old when he died.

37 “Keep as is” : STET

“Stet” is a Latin word meaning “let it stand”. In editorial work, the typesetter is instructed to disregard any change previously marked by writing the word “stet” and then underscoring that change with a line of dots or dashes.

39 The Golden State, familiarly : CALI

“Golden State” has been the official nickname of California since 1968. The nickname reflects the expansion of the state’s economy that followed the discovery of gold in 1848, and also the fields of golden poppies seen growing wild across California in the spring.

40 Director Anderson : WES

Film director Wes Anderson’s most famous movie is probably “The Royal Tenenbaums” that was released in 2001, and is not my favorite film by any stretch. However, Anderson’s 2007 release “The Darjeeling Limited”, that I enjoyed.

50 Tandoori bread : NAAN

Naan (also “nan”) bread is very popular in Indian restaurants, as well as in other West, Central and South Asian cuisines. Indian Naan is traditionally baked in a clay oven known as a tandoor.

52 Spiral-horned African antelope : NYALA

A nyala is an antelope from South Africa with spiral horns. “Nyala” is the Swahili name for the beast.

57 Big name in dog food : ALPO

Alpo is a brand of dog food introduced by Allen Products in 1936, with “Alpo” being an abbreviation for “Allen Products”. Lorne Greene used to push Alpo in television spots, as did Ed McMahon and Garfield the Cat, would you believe?

58 Kind of tide : NEAP

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans. At neap tide, the smaller gravitational effect of the sun cancels out some of the moon’s effect. At spring tide, the sun and the moon’s gravitational forces act in concert causing more extreme movement of the oceans.

59 Modern war hazards, for short : IEDS

Improvised explosive device (IED)

62 Pulitzer-winning James : AGEE

James Agee was a noted American film critic and screenwriter. Agee wrote an autobiographical novel “A Death in the Family” that won him his Pulitzer in 1958, albeit posthumously. He was also one of the screenwriters for the 1951 classic movie “The African Queen”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Salacious : LEWD
5 Opposite of loose : TAUT
9 Galileo, by birth : PISAN
14 ___ vera : ALOE
15 Frosty coating : RIME
16 Loosen, as a knot : UNTIE
17 Xena, notably : WARRIOR PRINCESS
20 Show known for its cold opens, for short : SNL
21 Cantankerous : CUSSED
22 Guard’s command : HALT!
23 Half of a Monopoly pair : DIE
25 “Smart as a whip” and “sharp as a tack” : SIMILES
27 Largest lizard on earth (up to 10 feet long) : KOMODO DRAGON
32 Mideast sultanate : OMAN
33 Sweet-talk and send chocolates, say : WOO
34 Looks lasciviously : OGLES
38 Sass : LIP
39 Toronto landmark that’s the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere : CN TOWER
42 Cereal bit : OAT
43 Totally lost : AT SEA
45 Funnyman Brooks : MEL
46 In years past : ONCE
47 Who sang the 1973 #1 hit “Midnight Train to Georgia” : GLADYS KNIGHT
51 Request for payment : INVOICE
54 It might be brown or pale : ALE
55 Moscow turndown : NYET
56 Skulls : CRANIA
60 By way of : VIA
63 “Happily ever after” … or what 17-, 27-, 39- or 47-Across has? : FAIRY-TALE ENDING
66 “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” actress Kemper : ELLIE
67 Tablet released in 2010 : IPAD
68 Tribe that lent its name to a Nebraska county : OTOE
69 Speaks with a gravelly voice : RASPS
70 Cuts with shears, maybe : LOPS
71 “Auld Lang ___” : SYNE

Down

1 Ten Commandments, e.g. : LAWS
2 Pizazz : ELAN
3 Some classroom wall hangings : WORLD MAPS
4 ___ Spiegel (German newsmagazine) : DER
5 Garment that may be “dropped” : TROU
6 Broadcasts : AIRS
7 Ones usually found at home : UMPS
8 Mother ___ : TERESA
9 Many a groan inducer : PUN
10 Moving at a snail’s pace : INCHING
11 Super bargain : STEAL
12 Political division, metaphorically : AISLE
13 Locales of wasps and spies : NESTS
18 ___ coffee : ICED
19 Hipster’s “gotcha” : I DIG
24 Particle in a particle accelerator : ION
26 Secure at shore : MOOR
27 Kind of nut : KOLA
28 Leave out : OMIT
29 Cable channel named for a talk show host : OWN
30 One of three in a Morse “S” : DOT
31 Spacious : ROOMY
35 What the biblical Methuselah is famous for : LONGEVITY
36 A pop : EACH
37 “Keep as is” : STET
39 The Golden State, familiarly : CALI
40 Director Anderson : WES
41 Rocky Mountain National Park sighting : ELK
44 It’s all about me, me, me : EGO TRIP
46 Big Alaska export : OIL
48 Bank statement no. : ACCT
49 Waylay, as a conversation : DERAIL
50 Tandoori bread : NAAN
51 Deduce : INFER
52 Spiral-horned African antelope : NYALA
53 Some bridal accessories : VEILS
57 Big name in dog food : ALPO
58 Kind of tide : NEAP
59 Modern war hazards, for short : IEDS
61 Sit ___ (audit) : IN ON
62 Pulitzer-winning James : AGEE
64 “You rang?” : YES?
65 Salon creations : DOS

17 thoughts on “1229-20 NY Times Crossword 29 Dec 20, Tuesday”

  1. 8:57 Including about 90 seconds looking for a fat finger. I originally had IMAC for 67A then changed to IPAD, or so I thought. I had IPAC and it took a bit to find the C. And IMAC had me entering IAMS at first for 57D vs ALPO. Also thought that IMPS were found at home but changed quickly to UMPS. Unfamiliar with NYALA and ELLIE Kemper.

    In all – several early miscues for an easy Tuesday.

  2. 5:02. A Tuesday record for me. I was doing this puzzle and yesterday’s at the same sitting. When I did this puzzle, I thought I was doing Monday’s. Maybe I was “fooled” into doing quicker than usual.

    I would have assumed that INVOICE comes from “invoco”, the Latin for “I invoke”, but I’ll trust Bill’s wiki skills as I’m too lazy to investigate myself.

    Best –

  3. No errors

    Got confused on spelling of SIMILES but worked it out. Also got tongue tied on KOMODO but worked that out with crosses. ICED coffee was my holdup. That wasn’t the first, second or third thing that came to mind..

  4. 13:46 no errors…52D was new to me…not sure what 21A means…
    @William Schumann “drop trou” means pulling ones pants down.
    Stay safe😀

  5. Easy puzzle, but how does ‘cantankerous’ become ‘cussed’? One is an adjective, one is a verb. Somebody please clue me in.

    1. @Jim …

      Found online in a dictionary entry for “cussed”:

      “adjective. /ˈkʌsəd/ (old-fashioned) (informal) (of people) not willing to be helpful synonym stubborn.”

      The dictionary happened to be one of the “Oxford” group, but a Google search for “cussed adjective” will give you lots of other hits.

    2. I have heard the expression before. The pronunciation is slightly different. The verb, meaning cursed, is pronounced KUSS-t; while the adverb is pronounced ku-SAID.

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