1211-21 NY Times Crossword 11 Dec 21, Saturday

Constructed by: Hal Moore
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 12m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Ranking no. : GPA

Grade point average (GPA)

17 Moles are found in it : TAQUERIA

Mole sauce comes in various guises, with “mole negro” including everyone’s favorite ingredient, namely chocolate.

18 1991 platinum debut album by a female singer : ALANIS

Alanis Morissette is a Canadian singer-songwriter. After releasing two pop albums in Canada, in 1995 she recorded her first album to be distributed internationally. Called “Jagged Little Pill”, it is a collection of songs with more of a rock influence. The album was a huge success, the highest-selling album of the 1990s, and the highest-selling debut album by any artist at any time (selling over 30 million units).

20 Collaborative resource : WIKI

A wiki is a website on which users are allowed to create and edit content themselves. The term “wiki” comes from the name of the first such site, introduced in 1994 and called WikiWikiWeb. “Wiki” is a Hawaiian word for “quick”, and is used because comprehensive content is created very quickly, as there are so many collaborators contributing to the site.

25 Food often served with plastic grass : SUSHI

Sushi is a Japanese dish that has as its primary ingredient cooked, vinegared rice. The rice is usually topped with something, most often fish, and can be served in seaweed rolls. If we want raw fish by itself, then we have to order sashimi.

27 Onetime Mughal capital : AGRA

Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
  • Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
  • Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

38 Medalla material : ORO

In Spanish, a “medalla” (medal) might be made from “oro” (gold).

40 Country rocker Steve : EARLE

Steve Earle is an American songwriter and performer, and someone with a reputation of having lived a hard life. Earle’s brushes with the law and drug addiction problems have earned him the nickname “the hardcore troubadour”.

41 Small-batch publication : ZINE

A zine is a magazine. The term “zine” is often reserved for noncommercial publications, including those issued online.

44 Treatment for jet lag : MELATONIN

For many years, I had to deal with jet lag almost every couple of months. I swear by the diet supplement melatonin, which you can buy over the counter here in the US. But, I am no doctor so don’t listen to anything I say …

46 One of the Scooby-Doo gang : FRED

“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” is a series of cartoons produced for Hanna-Barbera Productions, first broadcast in 1969. The title character is a great Dane dog owned by a young male called Shaggy Rogers. The character’s name was inspired by the famous “doo-be-doo-be-doo” refrain in the Frank Sinatra hit “Strangers in the Night”. Shaggy was voiced by famed disk jockey Casey Kasem. Shaggy and Scooby’s friends are Velma, Fred and Daphne.

47 Elder brother of Moses : AARON

In the Bible and the Qur’an, Aaron was the older brother of Moses and was a prophet. Aaron became the first High Priest of the Israelites.

50 Pentagon inits. : DOD

The largest government department in the cabinet is the Department of Defense (DOD), with a permanent staff of over 600,000. The smallest department, by far, is the Department of Education, with a mere four or five thousand employees.

The incredible building known as the Pentagon was built during WWII, and dedicated on January 15, 1943. It is the largest office building in the world (by floor space) covering an area of about 6.5 million square feet. As it was built during the war years, a major requirement was that it use a minimum amount of steel. That steel shortage dictated that the building be no more than four stories in height, and hence cover an awful lot of real estate.

54 Elizabeth of cosmetics : ARDEN

“Elizabeth Arden” was the business name used by Canadian-American Florence Nightingale Graham. Arden built a cosmetics empire that made her one of the wealthiest women in the world. Arden had a famous rivalry with fellow cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein, and that rivalry even spawned a 2016 stage musical called “War Paint”.

63 Course challenge : DOGLEG

A dogleg on a golf course is a hole that bends to the left or right. The name comes from the shape of a dog’s hind leg.

Down

2 Where the Noah’s Ark story is thought to have occurred, today : IRAQ

The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.

6 Subject of David Remnick’s “King of the World” : ALI

“King of the World” is a biography of Muhammed Ali written by Pulitzer prize winner David Remnick. It was made into a TV movie in 2000. Apparently the book is fabulous, and the TV movie is quite the opposite.

7 “All Eyez on Me” rapper : SHAKUR

Rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur adopted the inventive stage name “2Pac”. He was a hard man, spending eleven months in prison for sexual assault. He was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at only 25 years of age.

9 H : ETA

Eta is the seventh letter of the Greek alphabet, and is a forerunner of our Latin character “H”. Originally denoting a consonant, eta was used as a long vowel in Ancient Greek.

12 ___ buco : OSSO

“Osso” is the Italian word for bone, as in the name of the dish “osso buco” (bone with a hole), which features braised veal shanks.

21 Kind of muscle contraction : ISOTONIC

“Isotonic” means “of equal tension” and is of Greek origin. There are two common uses of the term. Solutions of equal concentration are said to be isotonic. An isotonic solution of saline has the same amount of salt (NaCl) as there is in blood. Also, in the isotonic contraction of a muscle, the amount of tension stays the same whereas the muscle’s length changes. Lifting an object at a constant speed causes the isotonic contract of the lifting muscle.

24 Tender union? : EUROZONE

The eurozone (also “euro area”) is a monetary and economic union within the European Union that uses the euro as a shared legal tender and sole currency.

26 Cousins of crew cuts : HI-TOP FADES

The term “crew cut” probably originated in Yale in the 1890s. The Yale football players were noted for wearing their hair relatively long, as it helped protect their heads inside the flimsy leather football helmets of the day. In contrast, the rowing team wore their hair relatively short, in a style that came to be known as the “crew cut”.

30 San Rafael’s county : MARIN

When you leave the city of San Francisco via the famous Golden Gate Bridge (i.e. heading north), you cross into Marin County.

San Rafael is the county seat of Marin County in the North San Francisco Bay. Like many cities in California, San Rafael owes its name to a Spanish mission, Mission San Rafael Arcángel.

31 Director Sergio : LEONE

Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, and someone very much associated with the Spaghetti Western movie genre . Perhaps most famous of Leone’s westerns were the so-called “Man with No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. The three films are:

  • “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964)
  • “For a Few Dollars More” (1965)
  • “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)

42 Bolster : ENHANCE

Back in Ireland I often slept in beds that had a “bolster” as well as pillows. The bolster was usually a long, bed-wide, stuffed cushion, harder than a pillow. It served the purpose of raising the pillows, perhaps as an aid for sitting up in bed. Our modern usage of the verb “bolster”, meaning to give a metaphoric shot in the arm, derives from this “bolster” that we used to sit up against.

45 Identifier seen in the “Six Feet Under” title sequence : TOE TAG

“Six Feet Under” is reportedly a great TV drama aired by HBO, and one that I fully intend to take a look at one day. The “six feet under” is a reference to the show’s storyline that features a family funeral business.

49 Actress Alexander of “Get Out” : ERIKA

Erika Alexander is the actress who played Pam Tucker, a cousin that came to live with the Huxtable household in “The Cosby Show”. Alexander also won many awards for playing Maxine Shaw on the Fox sitcom “Living Single”.

50 2010’s ___-Frank Act : DODD

The Dodd-Frank Act became law in 2010 and was a response to the Great Recession during the late 2000s. Sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd and by Representative Barney Frank, the act tightened financial regulations in an attempt to prevent a recurrence of the 2007-2010 financial crisis.

51 Name for a Dalmatian, perhaps : OREO

The Dalmatian breed of dog originated in Dalmatia, in the Republic of Croatia. Here in the US, Dalmatians are known as “firehouse dogs”. This association dates back to the use of Dalmatians in firehouses to guard the valuable horses that pulled the fire engines.

53 Card games are played in it : MLB

The St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team plays at Busch Stadium. Busch Stadium is the third stadium in the history of St. Louis to have the Busch name. The first two were named for Gussie Busch, the brewing magnate and former Cardinals team owner. The current stadium is named for the brewery though, and not Gussie per se.

55 Grp. with much-discussed amateurism rules : NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) dates back to the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. When his son broke his nose playing football at Harvard, President Roosevelt turned his attention to the number of serious injuries and even deaths occurring in college sports. He instigated meetings between the major educational institutions, leading to the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) in 1906, which was given the remit of regulating college sports. The IAAUS became the NCAA in 1910. The NCAA has been headquartered in Indianapolis since 1999.

57 Spanish seasoning : SAL

In Spanish, one might find “sal” (salt) on the table in a “cantina” (canteen, café).

60 Paycheck abbr. : YTD

Year-to-date (YTD)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Producer of inflation : AIR
4 Ranking no. : GPA
7 Confront, in slang : STEP TO
13 Some origin stories : PREQUELS
16 “Rumors are carried by ___, spread by fools and accepted by idiots” (old saying) : HATERS
17 Moles are found in it : TAQUERIA
18 1991 platinum debut album by a female singer : ALANIS
19 Fantastic voyage : QUEST
20 Collaborative resource : WIKI
22 React to a baby, maybe : COO
23 Promulgate : ISSUE
25 Food often served with plastic grass : SUSHI
27 Onetime Mughal capital : AGRA
29 Dirt farm? : RUMOR MILL
32 Ran : BLED
33 Army ___ : BRAT
34 Befuddled : AT SEA
36 Ushered : LED IN
38 Medalla material : ORO
39 “Ain’t gonna happen” : NOHOW
40 Country rocker Steve : EARLE
41 Small-batch publication : ZINE
43 It’s often framed : PANE
44 Treatment for jet lag : MELATONIN
46 One of the Scooby-Doo gang : FRED
47 Elder brother of Moses : AARON
48 Like talk, they say : CHEAP
50 Pentagon inits. : DOD
52 “It would ___ …” : SEEM
54 Elizabeth of cosmetics : ARDEN
56 Question that introduces doubt : OR IS IT?
58 Something a judge might show : LENIENCY
61 “It’s nothing,” in Spanish : DE NADA
62 Where some unsolicited advice comes from : BACK SEAT
63 Course challenge : DOGLEG
64 Black ___ : TEA
65 “Cool, dude!” : RAD!

Down

1 Prone : APT
2 Where the Noah’s Ark story is thought to have occurred, today : IRAQ
3 Essential work : REQUIRED READING
4 One might be educated : GUESS
5 Unsettle : PERTURB
6 Subject of David Remnick’s “King of the World” : ALI
7 “All Eyez on Me” rapper : SHAKUR
8 It’s thought to ward off bad energy : TALISMAN
9 H : ETA
10 One making good points in the classroom? : PENCIL SHARPENER
11 Something no two people can be : TRIO
12 ___ buco : OSSO
14 17-Across offering : QUESADILLA
15 Spotted : SAW
21 Kind of muscle contraction : ISOTONIC
24 Tender union? : EUROZONE
26 Cousins of crew cuts : HI-TOP FADES
27 Fit : ABLE
28 Twinkle : GLEAM
30 San Rafael’s county : MARIN
31 Director Sergio : LEONE
35 Struck dumb : AWED
37 One face of the moon : NEAR SIDE
42 Bolster : ENHANCE
45 Identifier seen in the “Six Feet Under” title sequence : TOE TAG
49 Actress Alexander of “Get Out” : ERIKA
50 2010’s ___-Frank Act : DODD
51 Name for a Dalmatian, perhaps : OREO
53 Card games are played in it : MLB
55 Grp. with much-discussed amateurism rules : NCAA
57 Spanish seasoning : SAL
59 Have : EAT
60 Paycheck abbr. : YTD

16 thoughts on “1211-21 NY Times Crossword 11 Dec 21, Saturday”

  1. 32:14. Well my one day streak is now over. Did this during a layover on the Houston airport waiting to head to Mexico.

    Time to go board my flight and take another nap…

    Best –

  2. 6:46. How was that a Saturday, with that grid and those clues? 61A, “‘It’s nothing’ in Spanish” is a Monday/Tuesday clue, not a Saturday one.

    1. 15:45. MUCH easier than yesterday. I agree about the difficulty of cling. Seemed more like a tough Weds. than a Sat.

      And like @Nonny, I’m unfamiliar with HI-TOP-FADES and also had DISTURB before PERTURB.

  3. 17:59, no errors, but I spent a couple of minutes trying to figure out what was wrong with “HIT OP FADES”. All the crosses seemed solid (though I’m unaware of “the Scooby-Doo gang”, so “FRED” was a guess), but it took me the better part of forever to see “HI-TOP FADES” (something else I’m not familiar with, though I suppose it should have been obvious).

  4. Several errors. Many of the same above. Ones I didn’t know, I got right with crosses. ISOTONIC gave me the most fits.. I felt like a clown going around in circles in my mini-car throwing darts at times hoping something would stick.

    On to sunday!! Unless I do the NEWSDAY Saturday stumper. That one really stumps me.

    1. FWIW, I thought the Stumper was a bit easier than usual (though not without some interesting cluing, and one long entry that I’m sure I’ve heard before, but it didn’t come easily to mind). It took me a little over half an hour to do it, but that’s kind of meaningless, as it includes (among other things) a bathroom break and a put-the-kettle-on-and-fill-the-teaball break. (Of course, it should be said that time devoted to breaks is often an important part of one’s total time, by providing the subconscious an opportunity to do its thing.) An enjoyable outing … 🙂.

  5. Too many smart Alec answers especially “pencil sharpener” and “rumor mill”. I don’t consider a dog leg to be a golf course challenge. A more apt clue is hole design.

  6. 1:05:50 no errors…anything short of a DNF on a Saturday NYT is a win for me despite the “too easy” remarks😀
    Stay safe😀

  7. 35 minutes. No errors etc. I would say a dogleg can be a golf course challenge as well as a design because it will often force you to make a decision whether to cut the corner and save yardageOr play each leg straight, but longer. Very impressed by you quick finishers.

  8. Sheesh!
    When does an honest critique become petty whining?
    Are any of us regular blog readers/contributors also puzzle constructors?
    Seems as though we might want to lighten up a bit…

  9. 26:39, no errors. To use a baseball analogy, I don’t think the setter threw a single straight pitch the entire game. Every clue was a curveball or slider. I bit on every one. 3D ASSIGNED READING > REQUIRED READING; 5D DISTURB > PERTURB; 44A SERATONIN > MELATONIN; 50A CLEMENCY > LENIENCY.
    Also worthy of mention is the various levels assigned to the word “moles”. Initially thinking of garden, then skin, espionage and chemistry. I always thought TAQUERIA was what you got after eating at a shaky Mexican restaurant.
    Just to be clear, this was not a rant. Just an observation of the setters technique to make this puzzle challenging. Many professional baseball pitchers make highly successful careers throwing ‘junk’.

  10. 11:23, 2 very dumb errors. And yes, I can say the same thing for the fourth week in a row…

    Indeed, I need to agree with Pete. A lot of people seem to really hate when people *actually* comment on the puzzle… you know, actually *use* the comment section for what it was meant for. I’ve definitely been sent the message several times that I don’t have the right to my opinion on these things. Just because someone else thinks something about a puzzle that you don’t doesn’t impugn your experience on it.

    1. @Glenn …

      No one is challenging your right to have opinions and to express those opinions. But others have the same right to challenge them.

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