1206-22 NY Times Crossword 6 Dec 22, Tuesday

Constructed by: Ross Trudeau & Wyna Liu
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Name that Ladder?

Themed answers are all famous women. The first names progress through a word ladder as we descend the grid:

  • 18A The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” : INA GARTEN
  • 22A Civil rights leader who co-founded the N.A.A.C.P. : IDA B WELLS
  • 29A Mathematician regarded as the first computer programmer : ADA LOVELACE
  • 35A Portrayer of the nurse Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out” : ANA DE ARMAS
  • 47A Director of the miniseries “When They See Us” : AVA DUVERNAY
  • 54A “Girl in Progress” star with a line of cosmetics : EVA MENDES
  • 59A “The Vagina Monologues” playwright : EVE ENSLER

Bill’s time: 7m 26s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Vaccine units, in brief : CCS

Cubic centimeter (cc)

A vaccine used to be a modified virus administered to an individual to stimulate the immune system into developing immunity, until mRNA vaccines were introduced to combat COVID-19. British physician Edward Jenner came up with the first vaccine, injecting people with the cowpox virus in order to prevent smallpox. The term “vaccination” comes from the Latin “vaccinus” meaning “from cows”, with “vacca” translating as “cow”.

7 Common wood for shoe trees : CEDAR

Cedar is used for the manufacture of some wardrobes and chests as it has long been believed that the fragrant oil in the wood is a moth-repellent. However, whether or not cedar oil is actually effective at keeping moths away seems to be in doubt.

A shoe tree (or boot tree) is an adjustable, foot-shaped device that is placed inside a shoe to preserve its shape. Shoe trees are often constructed from solid wood that absorb odor and wick away moisture from the shoe’s leather.

13 Cause for a food recall, maybe : E COLI

Escherichia coli (E. coli) are usually harmless bacteria found in the human gut, working away quite happily. However, there are some strains that can produce lethal toxins. These strains can make their way into the food chain from animal fecal matter that comes into contact with food designated for human consumption.

16 20 Questions category : ANIMAL

The parlor game called Twenty Questions originated in the US and really took off in the late forties as it became a weekly quiz show on the radio. Am I the only one who thinks that there aren’t enough quiz shows on the radio these days? Apart from a couple of great shows on NPR, I have to resort to listening to the BBC game shows over the Internet …

18 The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” : INA GARTEN

Ina Garten is an author as well as the host of a cooking show on the Food Network called “Barefoot Contessa”. She is a mentee of Martha Stewart, and indeed was touted as a potential “successor” to the TV celebrity when Stewart was incarcerated in 2004 after an insider trading scandal. Garten has no formal training as a chef, and indeed used to work as a nuclear policy analyst at the White House!

21 Lit-___ : CRIT

Literary studies, also called literary criticism (lit crit), is the evaluation and interpretation of literature.

22 Civil rights leader who co-founded the N.A.A.C.P. : IDA B WELLS

Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and leader of the civil rights movement. She published a pamphlet in 1892 called “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases”, which publicized the horrors of lynching of African Americans by white mobs in the South.

27 Wetland wader with a down-curved bill : IBIS

The ibis is a wading bird that was revered in ancient Egypt. “Ibis” is an interesting word grammatically speaking. You can have one “ibis” or two “ibises”, and then again one has a flock of “ibis”. And if you want to go with the classical plural, instead of two “ibises” you would have two “ibides”!

28 U.S.O. audience : GIS

The initialism “GI” stands for “Government Issue”, and not “General Infantry” as is widely believed. “GI” was first used in the military to denote equipment made from Galvanized Iron and during WWI, incoming German shells were nicknamed “GI cans”. Soon after, the term GI came to be associated with “Government Issue” and eventually became an adjective to describe anything associated with the Army.

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

29 Mathematician regarded as the first computer programmer : ADA LOVELACE

Ada Lovelace’s real name and title was Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. She was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the poet. Lovelace was fascinated by mathematics and wrote about the work done by Charles Babbage in building his groundbreaking mechanical computer. In some of her notes, she proposed an algorithm for Babbage’s machine to compute Bernoulli numbers. This algorithm is recognized by many as the world’s first computer program and so Lovelace is sometimes called the first “computer programmer”. There is a computer language called “Ada” that was named in her honor. The Ada language was developed from 1977 to 1983 for the US Department of Defense.

33 “… ___ not in Kansas anymore” : WE’RE

The famous line “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” was ranked no. 5 in a list of top movie quotes compiled by “The Hollywood Reporter”. The top of the list makes interesting reading, with the following comprising the top five:

  1. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” from “Gone With the Wind” (1939)
  2. “Here’s looking at you, kid.” from “Casablanca” (1942)
  3. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” from “Jaws” (1975)
  4. “May the Force be with you.” from “Star Wars” (1977)
  5. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

34 Bulb unit : LUMEN

The lumen is a measure of the amount of visible light emitted by a source.

35 Portrayer of the nurse Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out” : ANA DE ARMAS

Ana de Armas is an actress from Cuba. Having attended the National Theater School of Cuba, she moved to Spain at the age of 18. Thre, she made a name for herself in a Spanish TV series called “El Internado”. De Armas moved to Los Angeles in 2014, after which her performance opposite Ryan Gosling in 2017’s “Blade Runner 2049” earned her critical acclaim.

“Knives Out” is an intriguing murder mystery film released in 2019. There’s a great cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer. I really enjoyed this one, partly because it’s a clever, contemporary take on a classic whodunit movie …

42 12 : NOON

Our word “noon”, meaning “midday”, comes from the Latin “nona hora” that translates as “ninth hour”. Back in ancient Rome, the “ninth hour” was three in the afternoon. Over the centuries, traditions such as church prayers and “midday” meals shifted from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m., and so “noon” became understood as 12 noon.

43 When doubled, a popular logic puzzle : KEN

KenKen is an arithmetic and logic puzzle invented quite recently, in 2004 by a Japanese math teacher named Tetsuya Miyamoto. “Ken” is the Japanese word for “cleverness”.

46 Beauty supply giant : ULTA

Ulta Beauty is an American chain of beauty stores that was founded in 1990 and headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois. I am not part of the company’s target demographic …

47 Director of the miniseries “When They See Us” : AVA DUVERNAY

“When They See Us” is a miniseries created by Ava DuVernay and first aired in 2019. It is a crime drama based on events surrounding the Central Park jogger case from 1989. The show explores the lives of the Central Park Five, the five Black males who were falsely accused and prosecuted on charges related to the rape of a White woman.

51 Iconic flight pattern : VEE

Apparently, birds that fly in a V-formation do so for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes for efficient flight and conserves energy. The leading bird gets no advantage, but every following bird gets to “slipstream” a little. It has been noted that the lead bird drops to the back of the formation when he/she gets fatigued. It’s also thought that the flock can stick together more easily when in formation, so it is more difficult to lose someone along the way.

52 Qatari leader : EMIR

Qatar is a sovereign state in the Middle East occupying the Qatar Peninsula, itself located in the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar lies on the Persian Gulf and shares one land border, with Saudi Arabia to the south. Qatar has more oil and gas reserves per capita of population than any other country in the world. In 2010, Qatar had the fastest growing economy in the world, driven by the petrochemical industry. Qatar is scheduled to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, although the nation’s eligibility to do so is under question after a far-reaching bribery scandal was uncovered at the sport’s governing body.

54 “Girl in Progress” star with a line of cosmetics : EVA MENDES

I am most familiar with actress Eva Mendes as the female lead in the movie “Hitch”, in which she played opposite Will Smith. Mendes started a relationship with fellow actor Ryan Gosling in 2011, and the couple have two children together.

“Girl in Progress” is a 2012 movie starring Eva Mendes as the mother of a teenage girl who sets herself tasks designed to accelerate her “progress” towards maturity. The daughter, and title character, is played by Cierra Ramirez.

58 Japanese soy sauce : TAMARI

Tamari is a variety of soy sauce that is made without wheat, and so is often used by those on a gluten-free diet.

59 “The Vagina Monologues” playwright : EVE ENSLER

Eve Ensler is a playwright whose most famous work is “The Vagina Monologues”. When Ensler was only 23 years of age, she adopted a 15 year old boy. We are familiar with that boy on the big screen these days; actor Dylan McDermott.

63 Universal, Paramount or Columbia : STUDIO

Universal Studios was founded in 1912 in New York as the Universal Film Manufacturing Company by a group of investors led by Carl Laemmle. Just three years later, Laemmle opened Universal City Studios not far from Hollywood, on a 230-acre converted farm. Universal Studios made three films that were destined to become the highest-grossing films of their time: “Jaws” (1975), “”E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and “Jurassic Park” (1993).

Paramount Pictures is one of the oldest surviving film studios, and is the last major studio that still has its headquarters in Hollywood. Paramount was founded in 1912 as the Famous Players Film Company by Adolph Zukor, with partners Daniel and Charles Frohman. Paramount is now owned by Viacom.

Columbia Pictures was founded in 1919 as Cohn-Brandt-Cohn Film Sales, by brothers Jack and Harry Cohn, and Joe Brandt. The name was changed to Columbia Pictures in 1924 when the company went public. The Columbia name became closely associated with the wonderful Hollywood screwball comedies of the thirties, thanks to the association with director Frank Capra, and stars like Jean Arthur and Cary Grant.

65 Bellicose humanoid of Middle-earth : ORC

According to Tolkien, Orcs are small humanoids that live in his fantasy world of Middle-earth (also called “Mordor”). They are very ugly and dirty, and are fond of eating human flesh.

Someone described as bellicose is inclined to favor strife or war. The term “bellicose” comes from “bellum”, the Latin word for “war”.

66 Olympic stickers? : EPEES

There are three fencing events in the modern Olympics, with each distinguished by the weapon used:

  • Foil
  • Épée
  • Sabre

68 Org. with a cryptologic museum : NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense (DoD) since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

Down

1 Letter before psi : CHI

The letter chi is the 22nd letter in the Greek alphabet, and the one that looks like our Roman letter X.

4 Shellackings : BEATDOWNS

“To shellac” is a slang term meaning “to defeat decisively, to strike severely”.

5 Crossword direction: Abbr. : ACR

Arthur Wynne is generally credited with the invention of what we now know as a crossword puzzle. Wynne was born in Liverpool, England and emigrated to the US when he was 19-years-old. He worked as a journalist and was living in Cedar Grove, New Jersey in 1913 when he introduced a “Word-Cross Puzzle” in his page of puzzles written for the “New York World”. The first book of crossword puzzles was published by Shuster & Shuster, in 1924. The collection of puzzles was a huge hit, and crosswords were elevated to the level of “a craze” in 1924 and 1925.

8 Celeb gossip show : E! NEWS

E! Entertainment Television started out in 1987 as Movietime, and hired on-air hosts such as Greg Kinnear and Paula Abdul. It was renamed in 1990 to E! Entertainment Television, underscoring the focus on Hollywood gossip and the like.

10 Blend : AMALGAM

Amalgam is an alloy of mercury with some other metal. Many dental fillings are made of an amalgam of silver and mercury. We started using “amalgam” to mean “blend of different things” around 1790.

14 Floral garland : LEI

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

15 International cricket powerhouse : INDIA

Cricket is the national game of England. The term “cricket” apparently comes from the Old French word “criquet” meaning “goalpost, stick”.

19 Fish or mushroom feature : GILL

A fish’s gills are the organs equivalent to the lungs of many land animals. The gills can extract oxygen dissolved in water and excrete carbon dioxide.

A mushroom isn’t a complete living organism per se but rather is one part of a fungus, and is the fruiting body that is responsible for distributing reproductive spores. The mushroom generally has three main components: the stipe (or “stem”), the pileus (or “cap”) and the lamellae (or “gills”) under the cap which distribute the spores.

23 Epitome of simplicity : ABC

The more common meaning of “epitome” is “perfect example of a group, quality, type”. An epitome is also an abstract or summary of a book or article.

25 Eye layer : UVEA

The uvea is the middle of the three layers that make up the eyeball. The outer layer is called the fibrous tunic, and the inner layer is the retina.

30 Wrangler alternative : LEE

The Lee company that is famous for making jeans was formed in 1889 by one Henry David Lee in Salina, Kansas.

31 Clear plates, say : BUS

A busboy is a person who assists a waiter, mainly by clearing tables. The verb “to bus” arose in the early 1900s and is probably a reference to the wheeled cart that was used to carry dishes.

35 Alias inits. : AKA

Also known as (aka)

37 Dissolute man, from the French : ROUE

“Roue” is a lovely word, but one used to describe a less than lovely man, someone of loose morals. “Roue” comes from the French word “rouer” meaning “to break on a wheel”. This describes the ancient form of capital punishment where a poor soul was lashed to a wheel and then beaten to death with cudgels and bars. I guess the suggestion is that a roue, with his loose morals, deserves such a punishment.

Someone described as dissolute lacks ethical restraint, has loose morals. The term comes from the Latin verb “dissolvere” meaning “to loosen up”.

39 Covers for a king or queen? : DUVETS

A duvet is a large flat bag that is filled with down feathers or a synthetic substitute that is used as a top cover for a bed. Although a duvet is similar to what is called a “comforter” in the US, there is a difference. A duvet often has an easily removed cover that is usually laundered at the same time as the bottom sheet and pillowcases. We use them a lot in Europe, and generally without a top sheet due to the ease of laundering.

41 Make R-rated, say : STEAM UP

The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.

45 Competitor of WaPo and W.S.J. : NYT

“The Washington Post” (WaPo) is the oldest paper still being published in the DC area, having been founded in 1877. Famously, “The Post” reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the media’s investigation into what we now called the Watergate scandal. “The Washington Post” was purchased in 2013 by Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com.

“The Wall Street Journal” (WSJ) is a daily newspaper with a business bent that is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company. The WSJ has a larger US circulation than any other newspaper, with “USA Today” coming in a close second place.

47 OB/GYN tests, informally : AMNIOS

Amniocentesis (“amnio” for short) is the prenatal test which involves the removal of a small amount of the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus using a hypodermic needle. The fluid naturally contains some fetal cells, the DNA of which can then be tested to determine the sex of the child and to check for the presence of genetic abnormalities.

Obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN)

50 Chest bumps? : RIBS

In the human rib cage, the top seven sets of bones are known as true ribs as they are attached directly to the sternum or breastbone. The five sets below the true ribs are called false ribs as they don’t have this direct connection. The bottom two of the false ribs are also called floating ribs as they don’t connect to the sternum at all.

56 Crime show spinoff, familiarly : SVU

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a spin-off from the TV crime drama “Law & Order”. “SVU” has been on the air since 1999, and is set in New York City. Interestingly (to me), there is a very successful Russian adaptation of the show that is set in Moscow.

60 Terminus : END

We absorbed our word “terminus” (plural “termini”) from Latin, and in both languages it means “end, final goal”. The Roman god Terminus presided over landmarks and boundaries, and was the focus of the festival of Terminalia at the end of the Roman year.

61 Id’s counterpart : EGO

Sigmund Freud created a structural model of the human psyche, breaking it into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is that part of the psyche containing the basic instinctual drives. The ego seeks to please the id by causing realistic behavior that benefits the individual. The superego almost has a parental role, contradicting the id by introducing critical thinking and morals to behavioral choices.

62 Second-oldest record label in the U.S. : RCA

RCA was founded in 1919 as the Radio Corporation of America, and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric (GE). GE divested RCA in 1932, and then reacquired the company in 1986. Today, RCA is just a brand name owned by Sony Music.

The oldest surviving record label in the US is Columbia.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Vaccine units, in brief : CCS
4 Villainous : BAD
7 Common wood for shoe trees : CEDAR
12 Sweetie : HON
13 Cause for a food recall, maybe : E COLI
16 20 Questions category : ANIMAL
18 The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” : INA GARTEN
20 Chew out : BERATE
21 Lit-___ : CRIT
22 Civil rights leader who co-founded the N.A.A.C.P. : IDA B WELLS
24 “Obviously!” : WELL, DUH!
27 Wetland wader with a down-curved bill : IBIS
28 U.S.O. audience : GIS
29 Mathematician regarded as the first computer programmer : ADA LOVELACE
31 Apt rhyme for “cake” : BAKE
32 But nevertheless : YET
33 “… ___ not in Kansas anymore” : WE’RE
34 Bulb unit : LUMEN
35 Portrayer of the nurse Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out” : ANA DE ARMAS
39 Some computing platforms : DESKS
42 12 : NOON
43 When doubled, a popular logic puzzle : KEN
46 Beauty supply giant : ULTA
47 Director of the miniseries “When They See Us” : AVA DUVERNAY
51 Iconic flight pattern : VEE
52 Qatari leader : EMIR
53 Hardest to pin down, say : EELIEST
54 “Girl in Progress” star with a line of cosmetics : EVA MENDES
57 “Oh yeah, that sounds *super* plausible” : I BET
58 Japanese soy sauce : TAMARI
59 “The Vagina Monologues” playwright : EVE ENSLER
63 Universal, Paramount or Columbia : STUDIO
64 Sudden forward thrust : LUNGE
65 Bellicose humanoid of Middle-earth : ORC
66 Olympic stickers? : EPEES
67 ‘Fros and fades : DOS
68 Org. with a cryptologic museum : NSA

Down

1 Letter before psi : CHI
2 Yield : CONCEDE
3 Greet with a “grr” : SNARL AT
4 Shellackings : BEATDOWNS
5 Crossword direction: Abbr. : ACR
6 Punctuation in a web address : DOT
7 One hailed in the streets : CABBIE
8 Celeb gossip show : E! NEWS
9 Potentially catastrophic : DIRE
10 Blend : AMALGAM
11 Rodential, say : RATLIKE
14 Floral garland : LEI
15 International cricket powerhouse : INDIA
17 Diminish : LESSEN
19 Fish or mushroom feature : GILL
23 Epitome of simplicity : ABC
24 Custom : WAY
25 Eye layer : UVEA
26 What sheepdogs do : HERD
30 Wrangler alternative : LEE
31 Clear plates, say : BUS
34 Pool divisions : LANE LINES
35 Alias inits. : AKA
36 “This matters to me how?” : AND?
37 Dissolute man, from the French : ROUE
38 Take up a new residence : MOVE
39 Covers for a king or queen? : DUVETS
40 Bring to a new level : ELEVATE
41 Make R-rated, say : STEAM UP
43 Use, as a prayer mat : KNEEL ON
44 Occasions for egg-hunting : EASTERS
45 Competitor of WaPo and W.S.J. : NYT
47 OB/GYN tests, informally : AMNIOS
48 Short film? : VID
49 Dizzy : AREEL
50 Chest bumps? : RIBS
52 Full of creepy vibes : EERIE
55 Assembled : MADE
56 Crime show spinoff, familiarly : SVU
60 Terminus : END
61 Id’s counterpart : EGO
62 Second-oldest record label in the U.S. : RCA

9 thoughts on “1206-22 NY Times Crossword 6 Dec 22, Tuesday”

  1. 22:47. About as poorly as I could do on a Tuesday puzzle. I didn’t know any of the names off the top of my head. Knew 2 of them but only after getting virtually their entire name via crosses.

    Ouch. Is it tomorrow yet?

    Best –

  2. 13:48, no errors. Only name I knew today was ADA LOVELACE. Combine that with my lack of knowledge in the fields of cosmetics and gossip talk shows, and I also floundered severely. Happy for a zero error finish.
    Carl Bernstein’s current occupation is to come out of retirement and judge anything that Republicans do as ‘worse than Watergate’.

  3. 32:41, finishing Sunday-Wednesday on Thursday. This one was my nemesis with TV and literary references, never saw the word ladder, definitely a tough week so far.

  4. Ok, so this puzzle has all these female authors, directors, etc. One of the clues even has “the vagina monologues” in it… so they subliminally have you thinking in a certain direction. what’s the first thing that comes to mind for 50D Chest bumps?… right! Exactly what they wanted me to think… unfortunately it didn’t fit.

  5. Take two egotists and join them together on a Tuesday puzzle, fill it with obscurities and this is what you get👎👎
    Stay safe😀

    1. Ross Trudeau is not an egotist more like the opposite. An egotist would be someone who, say, insults the puzzle constructor(s) every time it is hard for him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *