1222-21 NY Times Crossword 22 Dec 21, Wednesday

Constructed by: Noki Trias & Lawrence Barrett
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Martian Missions

Themed answers each end with the name of a MARTIAN MISSION:

  • 36A NASA endeavors whose vehicles can be found at the ends of 17-, 22-, 51- and 57-Across : MARTIAN MISSIONS
  • 17A Jovial seasonal mood : CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
  • 22A Cost of not doing business, maybe : LOST OPPORTUNITY
  • 51A Why everyone loves a good train wreck : MORBID CURIOSITY
  • 57A Uniquely American cleverness : YANKEE INGENUITY

Bill’s time: 10m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

10 “Resident Alien” channel : SYFY

Syfy is a cable television channel that used to be known as the “Sci-Fi Channel”, which of course specializes in broadcasting science fiction shows. The brand name “Syfy” was chosen because “Syfy” could be trademarked whereas the generic term “sci-fi” could not.

15 Tennis champ Osaka : NAOMI

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese-born tennis professional who became the first Asian player to be ranked number-one in singles.

16 City with a beef : KOBE

Kobe is a city on the island of Honshu in Japan. Here in North America, the city of Kobe is perhaps most famous for its beef. And yes, basketball star Kobe Bryant was named after that very same beef.

20 ___-Seltzer : ALKA

The antacid known as Alka-Seltzer used an animated character called Speedy in its adverts from 1951 to 1964. Speedy had an Alka-Seltzer tablet as a body and another as a hat, and sang a jingle with the words “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz”. Speedy’s job was to get out the message that Alka-Seltzer provided speedy relief.

31 Like many a go-getter : TYPE-A

The Type-A and Type-B personality theory originated in the fifties. Back then, individuals were labeled as Type A in order to emphasize a perceived increased risk of heart disease. Type-A personality types are so-called “stress junkies”, whereas Type Bs are relaxed and laid back. But there doesn’t seem to be much scientific evidence to support the linkage between the Type-A personality and heart problems.

32 Warrior in the Greek pantheon : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

A pantheon is the set of all gods in a particular religion or mythology. The term comes from the Greek “pan” (all) “theon” (of gods). “Pantheon” is also the name given to a temple dedicated to all deities.

33 Regional wildlife : BIOTA

The biota of a region is the total collection of flora and fauna found there.

35 Lovable goofball, say : DORK

I consider “dork” and “adorkable” to be pretty offensive slang. “Dork” originated in the sixties among American students, and has its roots in another slang term, a term for male genitalia.

36 NASA endeavors whose vehicles can be found at the ends of 17-, 22-, 51- and 57-Across : MARTIAN MISSIONS

There have been several rovers sent to Mars from Earth. The Soviet Union’s Mars 2 landed in 1971, and failed. Mars 3 landed the same year, and ceased operation just 20 seconds after landing. NASA’s Sojourner landed in 1997 (what a great day that was!) and operated from July through September. The British rover Beagle 2 was lost six days before its scheduled entry into the Martian atmosphere. NASA’s Spirit landed in 2004, and operated successfully for over six years before getting trapped in sand and eventually ceasing to communicate. NASA’s Opportunity also landed in 2004, and operated for over fourteen years. And then NASA’s Curiosity made a spectacular, hi-tech landing in 2012 and is continuing to explore the planet today. Based on the Curiosity design, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed in 2021, along with the Mars helicopter named Ingenuity. The China National Space Administration landed it’s first rover, named Zhurong (“Rover” in English), five months after Perseverance started its mission on the planet.

39 Sketch show since ’75 : SNL

NBC first aired a form of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1975 under the title “NBC’s Saturday Night”. The show was actually created to give Johnny Carson some time off from “The Tonight Show”. Back then “The Tonight Show” had a weekend episode, and Carson convinced NBC to pull the Saturday or Sunday recordings off the air and hold them for subsequent weeknights in which Carson needed a break. NBC turned to Lorne Michaels and asked him to put together a variety show to fill the vacant slot, and he came up with what we now call “Saturday Night Live”.

40 Fist bump : DAP

The dap is a form of handshake, and often a complicated and showy routine of fist bumps, slaps and shakes. Some say that “dap” is an acronym standing for “Dignity And Pride”.

41 Walkie-talkie band, briefly : UHF

The radio spectrum is divided into bands based on frequency. “High band” is composed of relatively high frequency values, and “low band” is composed of frequencies that are relatively low. FM radio falls into the band called Very High Frequency (VHF). Television signals use frequencies even higher than VHF, frequencies in the Ultra High Frequency band (UHF). AM radio uses lower frequencies that fall into the relatively low bands of Low, Medium and High Frequency (LF, MF, and HF).

The more formal name for a walkie-talkie is “handheld transceiver”. A walkie-talkie is a handheld, two-way radio, and a device first developed for military use during WWII by Motorola (although others developed similar designs soon after). The first walkie-talkie was portable, but large. It was back-mounted and was carried around the battlefield by a radio officer.

48 When repeated, slangy sound of eating : NOM

“Om Nom Nom Nom” is a slang expression that indicates satisfied eating.

54 Fish also known as a bluegill : BREAM

The bluegill is a member of the sunfish family, although it is a freshwater fish. It is also known as bream, brim or copper nose. The bluegill has the honor of being the state fish of Illinois.

56 Title woman in a classic 1973 breakup tune : ANGIE

For my money, “Angie” is the greatest ballad ever performed by the Rolling Stones. Despite rumors to the contrary, “Angie” doesn’t refer to a particular woman. In fact, songwriter Keith Richard says that “Angie” is a pseudonym for heroin, and the lyrics tell of his efforts to get off the drug at a detox facility in Switzerland.

57 Uniquely American cleverness : YANKEE INGENUITY

The term “Yankee” originated back in the 1600s when Dutch settlers used to call English colonists “Jankes”, a disparaging term meaning “Little Johns”.

60 ___ homo : ECCE

According to the Gospel of John, when Pilate presented a scourged and beaten Jesus to the crowd he used the words “Ecce homo”, Latin for “Behold the man”.

62 Cheeseboard choice : BRIE

Brie is a soft cheese that is named for the French region in which it originated. Brie is similar to the equally famous (and delicious) Camembert. Brie is often served baked in puff pastry with fig jam.

63 Quizzical Quebec questions? : EHS

Québec is the largest province in Canada, and the only one with French as its sole official language. The name “Québec” comes from an Algonquin word “kebec” meaning “where the river narrows”. This refers to the area around Quebec City where the St. Lawrence River narrows as it flows through a gap lined by steep cliffs. The province has voted twice in referenda asking whether or not Quebec should become an independent country, once in 1980, and again in 1995. The 1995 result was 49% in favor of sovereignty, up from 40% in 1980.

Down

1 College app element : REC

Recommendation (rec.)

2 “___ Tannenbaum” (16th-century folk song that inspired a carol) : ACH

“O Tannenbaum” is a traditional German Christmas carol, the title of which is usually translated as “O Christmas Tree”. “Tannenbaum” is the German name for a fir tree.

6 Nanny ___ : CAM

From what I’ve read, it is legal to record video with a hidden camera, at least to monitor the behavior of a caregiver in your home. Apparently there is also a law that prohibits the recording of audio. So, “nanny cams” are sold without audio capability. But (disclaimer) that’s just what I read, so don’t take my word for it!

8 Morning hrs. : AMS

The 12-hour clock has been around a long time, and was even used in sundial format in ancient Egypt. Our use of AM and PM dates back to Roman times, with AM standing for Ante Meridiem (before noon) and PM standing for Post Meridiem (after noon). However, the Romans originally used the AM concept a little differently, by counting backwards from noon. So, 2AM to the Romans would be two hours before noon, or 10AM as we would call it today.

9 Composer of the piano piece played by Bugs Bunny in “Rhapsody Rabbit” : LISZT

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer and a fabulous pianist. Particularly towards the end of his life, Liszt gained a tremendous reputation as a teacher. While he was in his sixties, his teaching profession demanded that he commute regularly between the cities of Rome, Weimar and Budapest. It is quite remarkable that a man of such an advanced age, and in the 1870s, could do so much annual travel. It is estimated that Liszt journeyed at least 4,000 miles every year!

12 Clarice Starling’s employer in “The Silence of the Lambs,” in brief : FBI

“The Silence of the Lambs” is a 1991 psychological drama based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Harris. Jodie Foster plays FBI trainee Clarice Starling, and Anthony Hopkins plays the creepy cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter. “The Silence of the Lambs” swept the Big Five Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay) for that year, being only the third movie ever to do so. The other two so honored were “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975).

18 Hershey toffee confection : SKOR

The candy bar named “Skor” is produced by Hershey’s. “Skor” is Swedish for “shoes”, and the candy bar’s wrapping features a crown that is identical to that found in the Swedish national emblem. What shoes have to do with candy, I don’t know …

22 Fertile ground : LOAM

Loam is soil made up of sand, silt and clay in the ratio of about 40-40-20. Relative to other soil types, loam is usually rich in nutrients and moisture, drains well and is easy to till. Loam can also be used in constructing houses as it is quite strong when mixed with straw and dried.

23 “___ vez” (“Again,” in Valencia) : OTRA

Valencia is one of the autonomous communities of Spain, and is located in the east of the country on the Mediterranean Coast. Its capital city is also called Valencia, and is the third-largest city in the nation, after Madrid and Barcelona.

25 “Hamilton” actor Leslie ___ Jr. : ODOM

Leslie Odom Jr. is the actor and singer who originated the role of Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” on Broadway.

26 Indian flatbread : ROTI

In an Indian restaurant, naan bread is very popular. Roti is an unleavened cousin of naan.

27 Cousin of a gull : TERN

Terns are a family of seabirds. They are similar to gulls, but are more slender and more lightly built. Many species of tern are known for their long-distance migrations, with the Arctic tern migrating so far that it is believed to see more daylight in a year than any other animal.

38 ___ Islands, Polynesian archipelago : SAMOAN

The official name for the South Pacific nation formerly known as Western Samoa is the Independent State of Samoa. Samoa is the western part of the island group, with American Samoa lying to the southeast. The whole group of islands used to be known as Navigators Island, a name given by European explorers in recognition of the seafaring skills of the native Samoans.

42 Poet who coined the term “carpe diem” : HORACE

“Carpe diem” is a quotation from Horace, one of ancient Rome’s leading lyric poets. “Carpe diem” translates from Latin as “seize the day” or “enjoy the day”. The satirical motto of a procrastinator is “carpe mañana”, “translating” as “seize tomorrow”.

43 Kind of kiss : FRENCH

A kiss that involves touching of tongues is known as a French kiss, but no one seems to know why. Paradoxically, in Northern France, giving the same type of kiss is known as “baiser anglais”, i.e. English kissing!

45 Timing of the Mercutio/Tybalt duel in “Romeo and Juliet” : ACT III

In William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, Mercutio is a close friend of Romeo. Mercutio is stabbed in an altercation with Tybalt. As Mercutio dies, he cries out “A plague o’ both your houses!”, hence cursing both the Montagues (Romeo’s family) and Capulets (Juliet’s family).

47 Home to the deepest lake and river gorge in the U.S. : OREGON

Crater Lake is my favorite locale in the whole country. It sits in a volcanic crater giving it a near perfect circular shape. The water appears to have a deep, deep blue color and is extremely pure. There are no rivers running into the lake, so man hasn’t really had the chance to contaminate it with pollutants.

Hells Canyon in the northwestern US is the deepest river gorge in the country. The river that carved out the canyon is the Snake River, itself a tributary of the Columbia.

49 Likely cause of a cranky toddler’s ear-tugging : OTITIS

The suffix “-itis” is used to denote inflammation, as in laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx), otitis (inflammation of the ear), tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon), tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) and sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses).

58 Days gone by, in bygone days : ELD

“Eld” is an archaic word meaning “antiquity, olden times”.

59 Fangorn Forest dweller : ENT

Fangorn Forest is a location in the fictional world of Middle-earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Notably, it is the home of the Ents, a race of beings who closely resemble trees.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Darn it!” : RATS!
5 In base eight : OCTAL
10 “Resident Alien” channel : SYFY
14 Sound heard in a long hall : ECHO
15 Tennis champ Osaka : NAOMI
16 City with a beef : KOBE
17 Jovial seasonal mood : CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
20 ___-Seltzer : ALKA
21 Take a snooze, with “out” : ZONK …
22 Cost of not doing business, maybe : LOST OPPORTUNITY
29 Significant ___ : OTHER
30 Hubbub : ADO
31 Like many a go-getter : TYPE-A
32 Warrior in the Greek pantheon : ARES
33 Regional wildlife : BIOTA
35 Lovable goofball, say : DORK
36 NASA endeavors whose vehicles can be found at the ends of 17-, 22-, 51- and 57-Across : MARTIAN MISSIONS
39 Sketch show since ’75 : SNL
40 Fist bump : DAP
41 Walkie-talkie band, briefly : UHF
44 Place to catch up over a hot drink : TEAROOM
48 When repeated, slangy sound of eating : NOM
51 Why everyone loves a good train wreck : MORBID CURIOSITY
54 Fish also known as a bluegill : BREAM
55 Make a bow : TIE
56 Title woman in a classic 1973 breakup tune : ANGIE
57 Uniquely American cleverness : YANKEE INGENUITY
60 ___ homo : ECCE
61 Rest atop : LIE ON
62 Cheeseboard choice : BRIE
63 Quizzical Quebec questions? : EHS
64 “I ___ know” (common excuse) : DIDN’T
65 Member of the fam : SIS

Down

1 College app element : REC
2 “___ Tannenbaum” (16th-century folk song that inspired a carol) : ACH
3 Avid skateboarder, in lingo : THRASHER
4 Gardeners’ orders, at times : SOIL TESTS
5 Straight out of the barrel : ON TAP
6 Nanny ___ : CAM
7 Ode words : TO A …
8 Morning hrs. : AMS
9 Composer of the piano piece played by Bugs Bunny in “Rhapsody Rabbit” : LISZT
10 Lose the suit, say : SKINNY-DIP
11 Certain designer dog : YORKIPOO
12 Clarice Starling’s employer in “The Silence of the Lambs,” in brief : FBI
13 Nevertheless : YET
18 Hershey toffee confection : SKOR
19 Fit of sullenness : POUT
22 Fertile ground : LOAM
23 “___ vez” (“Again,” in Valencia) : OTRA
24 Bother : PAIN
25 “Hamilton” actor Leslie ___ Jr. : ODOM
26 Indian flatbread : ROTI
27 Cousin of a gull : TERN
28 Gabs : YAKS
33 Like hay on a farm : BALED
34 “Same here” : AS DO I
37 Eventually : IN TIME
38 ___ Islands, Polynesian archipelago : SAMOAN
41 Awkward farewell : UM, BYE
42 Poet who coined the term “carpe diem” : HORACE
43 Kind of kiss : FRENCH
45 Timing of the Mercutio/Tybalt duel in “Romeo and Juliet” : ACT III
46 Unfixable : RUINED
47 Home to the deepest lake and river gorge in the U.S. : OREGON
48 Cold rice topped with wasabi and raw fish : NIGIRI
49 Likely cause of a cranky toddler’s ear-tugging : OTITIS
50 “Ridiculous!” : MY EYE!
52 Soaks up the hot sun : BAKES
53 Ignores : SNUBS
58 Days gone by, in bygone days : ELD
59 Fangorn Forest dweller : ENT

10 thoughts on “1222-21 NY Times Crossword 22 Dec 21, Wednesday”

  1. 8:37, no errors. Nice theme. If someone had told me, when I was in my teens, that we would someday put vehicles on Mars to roam about, doing experiments and sending back data, I would definitely have given them the side eye. An amazing progression … 🤨.

  2. 13:34. Tough by Tuesday standards, I thought. Leaned heavily on the theme which doesn’t happen often in early week puzzles.

    Thought REC was short for “record”, but “recommendation” makes more sense. I haven’t filled out a college application in about 32 years so I might be a little rusty on applications.

    Best –

  3. 16:41. This seemed a bit difficult to me for a Weds. Took a bit to fill in the long acrosses. For 21A I had ZONE, but I guess ZONK makes more sense. I was think more of the boring meetings when I was working and how I would zone out and inadvertently take naps.

  4. 4 errors…with words like yorkipoo ,nom, nigiri,and um bye this is typical NYT 2 setter crap👎👎👎👎
    Stay safe😀

    1. @Jack … I’m surprised you haven’t made a note of “NOM” yet. According to “Xword info”, it has appeared in three recent NYT puzzles: on Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021, clued as “When repeated, slangy sound of eating”; on Sunday, September 12, 2021, clued as “Munch, in modern slang”; and on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, clued as “Chow down on, in modern slang”.

  5. 14:52, no errors. Stepped in a few rabbit holes: 3D SHREDDER > THRASHER; 21A ZONE > ZONK; 52D BASKS > BAKES; 53D SHUNS > SNUBS.

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