1231-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Dec 20, Thursday

Constructed by: David J. Kahn
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Small Businesses

We have a rebus puzzle today, with SMALL (abbreviations for) BUSINESSES in four squares:

  • 7D Local economy makeup … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : SMALL BUSINESSES
  • 19A Broker’s request for funds : MARGIN CALL
  • 4D Diner or sleeper : TRAIN CAR
  • 26A Digital currency : BITCOIN
  • 8D Faces of the digital age? : EMOTICONS
  • 38A Epic collapse : MELTDOWN
  • 31D Winner of a record 26 Oscars : WALT DISNEY
  • 46A Highlighter of tihs clue? : SPELL CHECK
  • 40D Violently temperamental sorts : HELLCATS

Bill’s time: 10m 25s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 N.B.A. stat : PPG

Points per game (PPG)

4 Number of stripes on la bandera mexicana : TRES

In Spanish, there are “tres” (three) stripes on “la bandera mexicana” (the Mexican flag).

13 Oscar-winning actor for “Moonlight” and “Green Book” : ALI

Mahershala Ali is an actor and sometime rapper. Among the more memorable roles Ali has had are lobbyist Remy Danton in TV’s “House of Cards”, and Colonel Boggs in “The Hunger Games” series of movies. He also won Best Supporting Actor Oscars for playing Juan in the 2016 drama “Moonlight”, and Dr. Don Shirley in 2018’s “Green Book”.

“Moonlight” is a 2016 semi-autobiographical film based on an unpublished play by Tarell Alvin McCraney titled “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”. “Moonlight” won the season’s Best Picture Oscar, thus becoming the first film to do so with an all-black cast, and the first with an LGBT storyline.

“Green Book” is a 2018 comedy film that is based on the true story of a 1962 tour of the Deep South by Florida-born classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley. Shirley, an African American, hires Italian-American bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga as his driver and bodyguard. I haven’t seen this one, but I hear that audiences and critics loved it …

14 Chew (out) : REAM

I must admit that I find the slang term “to ream out”, with its meaning “to scold harshly”, to be quite distasteful. The usage of the word as a reprimand dates back to about 1950.

15 Actress Clarke of “Game of Thrones” : EMILIA

Daenerys Targaryen is a major character in the HBO show “Game of Thrones”, and the underlying series of novels by George R. Martin. On the small screen, she is played by English actress Emilia Clarke.

16 Rapper MC ___ : REN

“MC Ren” is the stage name of rapper Lorenzo Patterson. The “Ren” in his stage name comes from the middle letters in his given name “Lorenzo”.

17 Plant that lacks true roots and leaves : ALGA

Algae are similar to terrestrial plants in that they use photosynthesis to create sugars from light and carbon dioxide, but they differ in that they have simpler anatomies, and for example lack roots.

21 Averts, with “off” : STAVES …

The word “stave” was originally the plural of “staff”, a word describing a wooden rod. To “stave off” originated with the concept of holding off with a staff. In the world of barrel-making, a stave is a narrow strip of wood that forms part of a barrel’s side.

22 Product with the slogan “Trust the power within” : DURACELL

Duracell is a brand of batteries made today by Procter & Gamble. “Duracell” is a portmanteau of “durable” and “cell”.

24 James Merritt ___, pioneer in American lithography : IVES

Currier and Ives was a printmaking concern in New York City run by Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Merritt Ives from 1834 to 1907. The firm specialized in making affordable, hand-colored black and white lithographs.

26 Digital currency : BITCOIN

Bitcoins are digital units of currency that are used on some Internet sites. Bitcoins are the most popular alternative currency used on the Web today. More and more reputable online retailers are accepting bitcoins, including Overstock.com, Expedia, Dell and Microsoft.

28 Foot with a short part and a long part : IAMB

An iamb is a metrical foot containing an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The lines in Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” use four sequential iambs, e.g. “Whose woods / these are / I think / I know”. With that sequence of four iambs, the poem’s structure is described as iambic tetrameter.

29 Places to crash : FUTONS

Anyone lucky enough to have visited Japan might be familiar with the traditional Japanese futon. Unlike what we tend to call futon in this country, the Japanese original is a padded mattress and quilt. Japanese futons are usually rolled up in the morning so that the space used for sleeping can be repurposed during the day.

33 Game that’s 100% luck : WAR

War is a card game, one played mainly by children.

36 ___-vivre (ability to live elegantly) : SAVOIR

“Savoir-faire” is a French term that literally means “to know (how) to do”. There’s a similar term in French that we haven’t absorbed into English, i.e. “savoir-vivre” meaning “to know how to live”. “Savoir-vivre” describes the ability to acquit oneself well in the world, in society.

37 Modern know-it-all : SIRI

Siri is a software application that works with Apple’s iOS operating system. “Siri” is an acronym standing for Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Voice-over artist Susan Bennett revealed herself as the female American voice of Siri a few years ago. The British version of Siri is called Daniel, and the Australian version is called Karen. Also, “Siri” is a Norwegian name meaning “beautiful woman who leads you to victory”, and was the name the developer had chosen for his first child.

39 Literally, “way of the gods” : SHINTO

It is perhaps best not to describe Shinto as a religion, but more as a “spirituality of the Japanese people”, a spirituality that encompasses folklore, history and mythology. Having said that, “Shinto” translates literally as “Way of the gods”. Most people in Japan who are described as practicing Shinto, also practice Buddhism.

41 Capital of Italy’s Apulia region : BARI

Bari is a major port city on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Bari has the unfortunate distinction of being the only city in Europe to experience chemical warfare during WWII. Allied stores of mustard gas were released during a German bombing raid on Bari in 1943. Fatalities caused by the chemical agent were reported as 69, although other reports list the number as maybe a thousand military personnel and a thousand civilians.

Apelia is a region in southern Italy, one that forms the “heel” of the country’s “boot”. The actual “heel” is known as the Salento peninsula.

44 One of 64 divisions of Louisiana : PARISH

In 48 of the 50 US states, the word “county” is used for the principal administrative division. The equivalent term in Alaska is “borough”, and in Louisiana is “parish”.

48 Certain tailored suit : ARMANI

Giorgio Armani is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the company that has borne his name since 1975. Although Armani is famous for his menswear, the company makes everything from jewelry to perfume.

49 Capital of Fiji : SUVA

Suva is the capital city of Fiji, and is located on the island of Viti Levu. Suva is the largest city in the southern Pacific Ocean.

53 Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 12 : IN E

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.

54 Squirming, maybe : ANTSY

The word “antsy” embodies the concept of “having ants in one’s pants”, meaning being nervous and fidgety. However, “antsy” has been used in English since the 1830s, whereas “ants in the pants” originated a century later.

56 Something to take or hang : TEN

“To hang ten” is a verb used in surfing. A surfer hangs ten when he or she is able to walk forward and hang ten toes over the nose of the board because the back of the board is covered by the waves being ridden.

Down

1 Chicken ___ (certain entree, informally) : PARM

Parmigiana is a dish from southern Italy. The original parmigiana was made with an aubergine (eggplant) filling, with cheese and tomato layers and then baked. Versions originating outside of Italy have replaced the aubergine with breaded cutlets of chicken or veal.

3 Game with sets and runs : GIN RUMMY

Gin rummy is a faster variant of standard rummy. It was introduced in 1909 by one Elwood Baker and his son.

6 Two under : EAGLE

The following terms are routinely used in golf for scores relative to par:

  • Bogey: one over par
  • Par
  • Birdie: one under par
  • Eagle: two under par
  • Albatross (also “double eagle”): three under par
  • Condor: four under par

No one has ever recorded a condor during a professional tournament.

8 Faces of the digital age? : EMOTICONS

An emoticon is a glyph created using text characters to represent facial features, and usually oriented sideways. The emoticon is designed to indicate emotion or attitude. The classic example is the smiley face 🙂. “Emoticon” is short for “emotion icon”.

9 In relation to : VIS-A-VIS

We can use the French phrase “vis-à-vis” as a preposition meaning “compared with”. When used as an adverb or adjective, it means “face-to-face”, which is a more literal translation from French.

12 New Mexico’s ___ Ski Valley : TAOS

Taos Ski Valley is a resort village in New Mexico, founded in 1955. About twelve families live there, making up thirty or so households and a population of about 60 people. It is said to very much resemble a Swiss village, and even includes an elected village council.

15 Legal limits? : ELS

The “limits” of the word “legal” are letters L (els).

20 Chow : GRUB

The larvae of stag beetles are commonly known as grubs, and the pupa known as the chrysalis. “Grub” is also slang for “food”. The word “grub” has been used in this sense since way back in the 1600s, and is possibly derived from birds eating grubs.

“Chow” is a slang term for “food” that originated in California in the mid-1800s. “Chow” comes from the Chinese pidgin English “chow-chow” meaning “food”.

31 Winner of a record 26 Oscars : WALT DISNEY

Walt Disney was awarded a record 26 Oscars in his lifetime, winning 22 and receiving 4 honorary awards. He also holds the record for the number of Oscars won in the same year, taking away a total of four in the 1954 awards ceremony.

32 Ab ___ (from the start) : OVO

“Ab ovo” translates literally from Latin as “from the egg”, and is used in English to mean “from the beginning”.

33 Went forward without a plan : WINGED IT

To wing it is to improvise, to do something without sufficient preparation. There is some debate about the term’s etymology, but I like the idea that it came from the theater. An actor would be described as winging it if he or she learned lines while standing in the wings just before going on stage.

34 Manhattan’s SoHo has a noted one : ART SCENE

The Manhattan neighborhood known today as SoHo was very fashionable in the early 1900s, but as the well-heeled started to move uptown the area became very run down and poorly maintained. Noted for the number of fires that erupted in derelict buildings, SoHo earned the nickname “Hell’s Hundred Acres”. The area was then zoned for manufacturing and became home to many sweatshops. In the mid-1900s artists started to move into open loft spaces and renovating old buildings as the lofts were ideal locations in which an artist could both live and work. In 1968, artists and others organized themselves so that they could legalize their residential use of an area zoned for manufacturing. The group they formed took its name from the name given to the area by the city’s Planning Commission i.e “South of Houston”. This was shortened from So-uth of Ho-uston to SoHo as in “SoHo Artists Association”, and the name stuck.

35 Where swimmer Katie Ledecky won four Olympic golds : RIO

Katie Ledecky is a swimmer who won her first Olympic gold medal at just 15 years of age, in the 800-meter freestyle. In 2016, Ledecky also became the youngest person to make “Time” magazine’s “Time 100” annual list of most influential people in the American world. Katie’s uncle is Jon Ledecky, owner of the New York Islanders hockey team.

36 “Flash Gordon” and others : SERIALS

“Flash Gordon” was originally a comic strip that was first published in 1934 and drawn by Alex Raymond. It was created to compete with the already successful strip titled “Buck Rogers”.

38 Woodchuck of the western U.S. : MARMOT

Marmots are large ground squirrels. Included in the genus is the famous groundhog, but not the equally famous prairie dog.

The woodchuck is also known as the groundhog, and is one in a group of large ground squirrels called marmots. Repeat after me:

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

39 A one-hit Wonder he’s not : STEVIE

The great musician Stevie Wonder signed on with Motown Records when he was just 11-years-old. He has been remarkably loyal to the label and is still recording with Motown some 50 years later. The level of Stevie Wonder’s success is illustrated by his 22 Grammy Awards, the most Grammys awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder was born 6 weeks prematurely, and incomplete development of blood vessels in his eyes caused the retinas to detach leaving him blind soon after birth. His mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, co-wrote many of Stevie’s songs when he was a teenager, including “I Was Made to Love Her”, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” and “I Don’t Know Why I Love You”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 N.B.A. stat : PPG
4 Number of stripes on la bandera mexicana : TRES
8 Relay, e.g. : EVENT
13 Oscar-winning actor for “Moonlight” and “Green Book” : ALI
14 Chew (out) : REAM
15 Actress Clarke of “Game of Thrones” : EMILIA
16 Rapper MC ___ : REN
17 Plant that lacks true roots and leaves : ALGA
18 Be surpassed by : LOSE TO
19 Broker’s request for funds : MARGIN CALL
21 Averts, with “off” : STAVES …
22 Product with the slogan “Trust the power within” : DURACELL
24 James Merritt ___, pioneer in American lithography : IVES
25 Modest : DEMURE
26 Digital currency : BITCOIN
28 Foot with a short part and a long part : IAMB
29 Places to crash : FUTONS
30 Layer : PLY
31 Goes downhill : WORSENS
33 Game that’s 100% luck : WAR
36 ___-vivre (ability to live elegantly) : SAVOIR
37 Modern know-it-all : SIRI
38 Epic collapse : MELTDOWN
39 Literally, “way of the gods” : SHINTO
41 Capital of Italy’s Apulia region : BARI
42 Sums set aside, say : NEST EGGS
44 One of 64 divisions of Louisiana : PARISH
46 Highlighter of tihs clue? : SPELL CHECK
48 Certain tailored suit : ARMANI
49 Capital of Fiji : SUVA
50 Not-so-great grade : DEE
51 Put together, as assets : POOLED
52 Send off : EMIT
53 Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 12 : IN E
54 Squirming, maybe : ANTSY
55 Goes out with : SEES
56 Something to take or hang : TEN

Down

1 Chicken ___ (certain entree, informally) : PARM
2 District attorney’s offering, maybe : PLEA DEAL
3 Game with sets and runs : GIN RUMMY
4 Diner or sleeper : TRAIN CAR
5 Adjust, as skates : RELACE
6 Two under : EAGLE
7 Local economy makeup … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : SMALL BUSINESSES
8 Faces of the digital age? : EMOTICONS
9 In relation to : VIS-A-VIS
10 Big roll : ELEVEN
11 Informal times, in ads : NITES
12 New Mexico’s ___ Ski Valley : TAOS
15 Legal limits? : ELS
20 Chow : GRUB
23 Quantity equal to about seven glasses of wine : LITER
25 Minor market move : DIP
27 Shipload : TON
29 🙁 : FROWN
31 Winner of a record 26 Oscars : WALT DISNEY
32 Ab ___ (from the start) : OVO
33 Went forward without a plan : WINGED IT
34 Manhattan’s SoHo has a noted one : ART SCENE
35 Where swimmer Katie Ledecky won four Olympic golds : RIO
36 “Flash Gordon” and others : SERIALS
37 Pine (for) : SIGH
38 Woodchuck of the western U.S. : MARMOT
39 A one-hit Wonder he’s not : STEVIE
40 Violently temperamental sorts : HELLCATS
41 Titan of industry : BARON
43 Froth : SPUME
44 Old man : PAPA
45 Shrouded : HID
47 Razor-sharp : KEEN

13 thoughts on “1231-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Dec 20, Thursday”

  1. 22:45 with one lookup to aid with 46A crossing 40D. Took a while to get any traction on this one. Then got the BITCOIN rebus. Was then looking for CO rebus in other places, but getting 7D helped me figure out the other rebuses were about business. Just couldn’t come up with LLC at 3:45 a.m.

    Unfamiliar with BARI.

  2. 24:06. Relatively early “aha” moment with TRAIN CAR and MARGIN CALL meeting. Toughest area for me was the SW. Why I couldn’t see WALT DISNEY sooner is beyond me.

    Nice way to end the year. I’ll simply say “good riddance” to 2020 this evening. Here’s to a much better 2021.

    Best-

  3. 31:37 After getting the reveal answer I figured out “traincar” “bitcoin’ then after that it was off to the turtle races. Did a lot of alphabet guessing on short answers lacking one letter(Suva, for one). On the plus side, my daughter but the NYT Crossword App, so in the short term anyway, someone is slower than me. Happy New Year to you!!

  4. Wow, no errors.. got stuck in that section with SAVOIR-VIVRE and PARISH and BARI.. I had MALMOT for a long time..
    Once MARGIN CALL fell , I figured out the trick. But I was looking for 3 letter combos.. I just knew BITCOIN had to go in there but COI wasn’t a small business. Oh, CO!!!

    26 Oscar’s for Walt Disney. Wow again!!

  5. 1:10:00 no errors…this one had DNF written all over it…YAy me.
    I got small business early on and that really helped.
    Stay safe😀
    Haven’t had any mail in a week…maybe today…still looking for last months bank and credit card statements

  6. Not being familiar with Ms. Clarke I initially had Amelia for 15-A until the diabolical Legal limits became ELS. VISAVIS became apparent so Amelia became EMILIA and Bob’s your uncle. Fairly difficult for a Thursday offering but I survived WNE. I find the occasional rebus puzzle to be refreshing.

  7. 16:47, 3 errors: (A)MILIA; (R)OSETO; (A)(R)S. Embarrassed that I didn’t catch LOSE TO, that might have clued me to EMILIA. Game of Thrones and essentially every movie referenced were out of my sphere of knowledge.

  8. Bill, I greatly appreciate your blog with your explanations. I feel like I am learning something when I do these. My only comment is to “hang ten” on a surf board you need strong off shore breeze to keep the nose of the board up. The breeze also keeps the face of the wave up longer before breaking and makes the “tube” on big waves.

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