1223-21 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 21, Thursday

Constructed by: Stephen McCarthy
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): A Too Flip Puzzle

Themed answers are common phrases with letters A and O swapped in one word:

  • 17A Reef deposit hung on the holiday tree? : A CHRISTMAS CORAL (from “A Christmas Carol”)
  • 31A Noble gas you can’t live without? : VITAL ARGON (from “vital organ”)
  • 41A Starbucks order for a man’s man? : CAFFE MACHO (from “caffe mocha”)
  • 59A Buys tickets for a couple of friends for a Polynesian getaway? : TAKES TWO TO TONGA (from “takes two to tango”)

Bill’s time: 13m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Morgan Stanley acquisition of 2020 : E-TRADE

E-Trade is mainly an online discount brokerage. It was founded in 1982 in Palo Alto, California, and I used to drive by its headquarters almost every day. The company is now run out of New York City. E-Trade used to produce those famous Super Bowl ads with the talking babies staring into a webcam.

17 Reef deposit hung on the holiday tree? : A CHRISTMAS CORAL (from “A Christmas Carol”)

Polyps are tiny sea creatures that are found attached to underwater structures or to other polyps. Polyps have a mouth at one end of a cylindrical “body” that is surrounded by tentacles. Some polyps cluster into groups called stony corals, with stony corals being the building blocks of coral reefs. The structure of the reef comprises calcium carbonate exoskeletons secreted by the coral polyps.

21 Popular web browser : CHROME

Google’s Chrome is the most popular web browser by far, with Mozilla Firefox in second place and Apple’s Safari in third. I find Chrome to be much, much more user-friendly than Safari, and more featured than Firefox. Chrome also works very seamlessly with other Google products and with Android phones.

22 Something an Australian might throw on the barbie : SHRIMP

“Barbie” is a nickname for “barbecue”, especially in Australia. Let’s throw shrimp on the barbie!

26 Heath genus that’s also a woman’s name : ERICA

It is a commonly held belief that heather and erica are the same thing botanically, but in fact, erica is another name for a different species called “heath”.

29 Certain international soccer championship, familiarly : EUROS

The UEFA European Football Championship (“The Euros”)

31 Noble gas you can’t live without? : VITAL ARGON (from “vital organ”)

The chemical element argon has the symbol Ar. It is a noble gas, and so by definition is relatively nonreactive. The name “argon” comes from the Greek word for “lazy, inactive”. There’s a lot of argon around, as it is the third-most abundant gas in our atmosphere.

33 It’s 1 for 90° : SINE

The most familiar trigonometric functions are sine, cosine and tangent (abbreviated to “sin, cos and tan”). Each of these is a ratio: a ratio of two sides of a right-angled triangle. The “reciprocal” of these three functions are cosecant, secant and cotangent. The reciprocal functions are simply the inverted ratios, the inverted sine, cosine and tangent. These inverted ratios should not be confused with the “inverse” trigonometric functions e.g. arcsine, arccosine and arctangent. These inverse functions are the reverse of the sine, cosine and tangent.

38 Word with candy or ball : COTTON …

What we call “cotton candy” here in the US has some interesting names in the rest of the world. Back in Ireland it’s candyfloss, in France it “barbe à papa” (Dad’s beard), and in Australia it is called fairy floss. “Fairy floss” is actually the original name for cotton candy, a name first used when the confection was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.

41 Starbucks order for a man’s man? : CAFFE MACHO (from “caffe mocha”)

A macho man is one showing pride in his masculinity. “Macho” is a Spanish word for “male animal”.

A caffè mocha is a caffè latte that has been flavored with chocolate. One might also regard a caffè mocha as hot chocolate with the addition of a shot of espresso.

47 Cause of the moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie, in song : AMORE

“That’s Amore” is a pop standard written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks in 1952. “That’s Amore” became the signature song for Dean Martin after he sang it (with some help from Jerry Lewis) in the 1953 comedy film “The Caddy”. “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore …”

53 Car model with a musical name : SONATA

The Sonata is one of Hyundai’s most successful models, having been introduced in 1985 and still being sold today. The original model didn’t make it to the North American market as it had problems meeting emission standards. The first Sonatas hit this side of the Pacific in 1988, and were assembled in Bromont, Quebec.

55 Miami five : THE HEAT

The Miami Heat basketball team debuted in the NBA in the 1988-89 season. The franchise name was chosen in a competitive survey, with “Miami Heat” beating out “Miami Vice”.

59 Buys tickets for a couple of friends for a Polynesian getaway? : TAKES TWO TO TONGA (from “takes two to tango”)

The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 176 islands in the South Pacific, 52 of which are inhabited and scattered over an area of 270,000 square miles. Tonga was given the name Friendly Islands in 1773 when Captain James Cook first landed there, a reference to the warm reception given to the visitors. The nation’s capital is the city of Nukuʻalofa on the island of Tongatapu.

The term “Polynesia” was coined in 1756 by author Charles de Brosses when he used it to describe all the islands in the Pacific. This usage was later restricted to what we now refer to as a subregion of Oceania.

62 Something it’s good to get a hole in? : ONE

One well-documented hole in one (ace) was during a round of the British Open in 1973. American golfer Gene Sarazen achieved the feat that day, at the age of 71. A less well-documented series of holes in one was reported by the North Korean press in a story about the Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The report was that Kim Jong-il scored 11 holes in one in his one and only round of golf.

66 New citizen, perhaps : EMIGRE

An émigré (fem. “émigrée”) is an emigrant. The term is French in origin, and particularly applies to someone who is a political refugee from his or her native land.

Down

3 Lead-in to a Southern “-ville” : ASHE-

Samuel Ashe was the Governor of North Carolina from 1795 to 1798. North Carolina’s Ashe County and the cities of Asheboro and Asheville are named in his honor.

5 “Christ’s Entry Into Brussels in 1889” artist : ENSOR

James Ensor was a Belgian painter who was active in the first half of the twentieth century. He lived in Ostend for almost all of his life. In fact, Ensor only made three brief trips abroad, to Paris, London and Holland.

7 ___ shot : RIM

A rim shot is a sound made when a drummer hits the head of a drum and the rim at the same time. It’s a sound often used by comics to help punctuate a gag.

8 In the way of : A LA

The phrase “in the style of” can be translated as “alla” in Italian and “à la” in French.

9 45, e.g. : DISC

The first vinyl records designed to play at 33⅓ rpm were introduced by RCA Victor in 1931, but were discontinued due to quality problems. The first long play (LP) 33⅓ rpm disc was introduced by Columbia Records many years later in 1948, with RCA Victor following up with a 45 rpm “single” the following year, in 1949.

11 Free-fall phenomenon, informally : ZERO G

The force of gravity (g-force) that we all feel is referred to as “one G”. As gravity is an accelerating force, acceleration is measured relative to that force of gravity. So, if we are sitting in a vehicle that accelerates at 3G, then we are experiencing a force that is three times that which we feel from the gravitational pull of the earth. Zero G is weightlessness that is experienced when in space, and outside the influence of the earth’s gravity.

19 Chicago airport code : ORD

The IATA airport code for O’Hare International in Chicago is ORD, which comes from Orchard Place Airport/Douglas Field (OR-D).

23 ___ shot : MUG

A mug shot is a photograph of a person’s face, one often taken for a police record.

27 Org. that gives out “gold” but fights pirates : RIAA

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) represents music distributors. It is the RIAA that certifies records that have gone gold and platinum i.e. reached fixed sales thresholds. It’s also the RIAA that goes after individuals who share music illegally online.

30 “Kiss her ___ for me” (“A Holly Jolly Christmas” lyric) : ONCE

“A Holly Jolly Christmas” is a 1962 song composed by Johnny Marks, who also wrote other Christmas classics like “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”. Most famously, “A Holly Jolly Christmas” was recorded by Burl Ives in 1965.

32 Western gas brand : ARCO

The company name “ARCO” is an acronym standing for “Atlantic Richfield Company”. One of ARCO’s claims to fame is that it is responsible for the nation’s largest Superfund site. Mining and smelting in the area around Butte, Montana polluted the region’s water and soil, and ARCO has agreed to pay $187 million to help clean up the area.

33 District of Columbia advocacy subject : STATEHOOD

The District of Columbia (DC) was established by the Residence Act in 1790. Article One, Section 8 of the US constitution provides for the establishment of a district outside of the states, over which the federal government has authority. The constitution also specifies that the district cannot exceed an area of ten miles square.

35 N.Y.C. neighborhood next to the Bowery : NOHO

“NoHo” is short for “North of Houston (street)”, and is the equivalent area to SoHo, South of Houston, both of which are in New York City.

The Bowery is a neighborhood at the south end of Manhattan Island in New York City. The name “Bowery” comes from the old Dutch word for a farm, namely “bouwerij”.

36 Great-great-great-great-great grandfather of Noah : ENOS

Enos was the son of Seth, and therefore the grandson of Adam and Eve, and nephew of Cain and Abel. According to the ancient Jewish work called the Book of Jubilees, Enos married his own sister Noam.

43 Like Santa, in traditional depictions : FAT

The Santa Claus with whom we are familiar today largely comes from the description in the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and from the 1863 caricature created by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Nast is also responsible for locating Santa’s workshop at the North Magnetic Pole, a fact that he revealed to the world in a series of drawings in 1879.

47 Start of an English auto name : ASTON …

Aston Martin is a British car manufacturer founded in 1913 by Lionel Martin. The Aston part of the company name comes from Aston Hill, a famous site for hill-climbing cars that is nearby the original factory. Aston Martin cars are much loved by the British entertainment industry. James Bond was given one in “Goldfinger”, and Michael Caine drove one in the 1969 version of “The Italian Job”. Also, Roger Moore’s character drove a yellow Aston Martin in the seventies television show “The Persuaders!”.

48 2016 animated film with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda : MOANA

Lin-Manuel Miranda is a composer and playwright from New York City, and the creator and star of the hit Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights”. Miranda also co-wrote the songs for the 2016 Disney animated feature “Moana”. He started composing early, and wrote jingles as a child. One of those jingles was later used by Eliot Spitzer in his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

50 Explorer John : RAE

John Rae was a Scottish explorer who took on the task of searching for the ill-fated Franklin Expedition of 1845. The Franklin Expedition was itself searching for the elusive Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. John Rae stirred up much controversy back in England when he reported evidence of cannibalism among the ill-fated Franklin explorers.

58 Besmirches : TARS

“Besmirch” is a derivative of “smirch”, with both words meaning to “make dirty”. In particular, to besmirch is to sully someone’s reputation.

60 Historical event given its current name in 1939: Abbr. : WWI

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, what we now know as World War I was referred to as “the World War” or “The Great War”.

61 “!!!” : OMG!

“OMG” is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G-words you might care to use …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 When said three times, how an overlong comment might be summarized : BLAH
5 Morgan Stanley acquisition of 2020 : E-TRADE
11 Shock, in a way : ZAP
14 Let up : EASE
15 Get something just right : NAIL IT
16 Word aptly hidden in “I’ve got this!” : EGO
17 Reef deposit hung on the holiday tree? : A CHRISTMAS CORAL (from “A Christmas Carol”)
20 Is unobliged to : NEED NOT
21 Popular web browser : CHROME
22 Something an Australian might throw on the barbie : SHRIMP
25 Beats (out) : EDGES
26 Heath genus that’s also a woman’s name : ERICA
29 Certain international soccer championship, familiarly : EUROS
31 Noble gas you can’t live without? : VITAL ARGON (from “vital organ”)
33 It’s 1 for 90° : SINE
37 Occasion on which to sing the hymn “Up From the Grave He Arose” : EASTER
38 Word with candy or ball : COTTON …
40 Things caught at a beach : RAYS
41 Starbucks order for a man’s man? : CAFFE MACHO (from “caffe mocha”)
45 True : LOYAL
46 Essential character : ETHOS
47 Cause of the moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie, in song : AMORE
51 Sugar or flour : STAPLE
53 Car model with a musical name : SONATA
55 Miami five : THE HEAT
59 Buys tickets for a couple of friends for a Polynesian getaway? : TAKES TWO TO TONGA (from “takes two to tango”)
62 Something it’s good to get a hole in? : ONE
63 Archers : BOWMEN
64 Trash day reminder : ODOR
65 Passage blocker, maybe : NAY
66 New citizen, perhaps : EMIGRE
67 What cynophobia is the fear of : DOGS

Down

1 Black-eyed pea, technically : BEAN
2 Get ready to skate, with “up” : LACE …
3 Lead-in to a Southern “-ville” : ASHE-
4 Tries to wrangle the unwrangleable : HERDS CATS
5 “Christ’s Entry Into Brussels in 1889” artist : ENSOR
6 More ragged : TATTIER
7 ___ shot : RIM
8 In the way of : A LA
9 45, e.g. : DISC
10 Does some cave art : ETCHES
11 Free-fall phenomenon, informally : ZERO G
12 Good thing to bring to the field : A GAME
13 North and South, but not East or West : POLES
18 Gobble down : INHALE
19 Chicago airport code : ORD
23 ___ shot : MUG
24 For : PRO
26 At all : EVER
27 Org. that gives out “gold” but fights pirates : RIAA
28 Teeny-tiny : ITSY
30 “Kiss her ___ for me” (“A Holly Jolly Christmas” lyric) : ONCE
32 Western gas brand : ARCO
33 District of Columbia advocacy subject : STATEHOOD
34 Hankering : ITCH
35 N.Y.C. neighborhood next to the Bowery : NOHO
36 Great-great-great-great-great grandfather of Noah : ENOS
39 Dish that may be served folded : OMELET
42 Old-timey agreements : AYS
43 Like Santa, in traditional depictions : FAT
44 Butter up, say : FLATTER
45 Doesn’t disturb : LET’S BE
47 Start of an English auto name : ASTON …
48 2016 animated film with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda : MOANA
49 Pitch-perfect : ON KEY
50 Explorer John : RAE
52 Give a buzz : PHONE
54 Small thing : ATOM
56 Opposite of exo- : ENDO-
57 Full of anticipation : AGOG
58 Besmirches : TARS
60 Historical event given its current name in 1939: Abbr. : WWI
61 “!!!” : OMG!

16 thoughts on “1223-21 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 21, Thursday”

  1. 20:53. Much easier theme than I was trying to make it initially. I won’t go into that embarrassment. Good theme as it turned out. I tried to think of other examples, but I’m drawing a blank. Maybe later.

    DC should never get STATEHOOD. If you put the Federal government in the middle of a state, you’d have more conflicts of interest than you can ever imagine. It was a wise decision to begin with, and we should leave it alone.

    RIAA was new to me. SHRIMP on the barbie sounds pretty good right now.

    Best –

    1. How about RADON gas vs RODAN gas – when Godzilla‘s nemesis has heartburn and destroys cities w/o even touching them??

    1. My time was 23:33 – if it was 33:33, that seems like it would be an embarrassment. Was also for something more difficult than it turned out to be.

  2. No errors but it was a tough one. Didn’t know EUROS ENSOR RIAA NOHO.
    Had SOHO initially but knew SINE was right.
    Had no idea EUROS was slang for soccer championship.
    Bottomline, my crosses worked it out.
    On to Friday!!!

    1. Two words, herds cats. Not an easy task. I have a golfing friend who says it when trying to get everyone to the tee on time. It’s like herding cats.

    2. The likelihood of being able to drive a bunch of cats in one direction is very low, driving and wrangling are synonymous, thus
      driving the uncontrollable and wrangling the unwrangleable is trying to HERD CATS.

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