1208-22 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 22, Thursday

Constructed by: Grant Thackray
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pirate

Today’s grid includes a few clever PIRATE references, including:

  • LONG JOHN SILVER: with an eye patch (black square over his “I”)
  • PEG LEG: “shake a peg” instead of “shake a leg”
  • Hook hand: a FLUSH (poker hand in the shape of a hook)
  • 47D One with an “eye patch,” hook hand and peg leg, as represented in this puzzle’s grid : PIRATE

Bill’s time: 10m 01s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Hankerings : YENS

The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.

5 About seven or eight weeks before 5-Down : MAY
[5D Time in the dog days of summer : MID-JULY]

The month of May was named for Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility.

8 Rapper Biggie ___ : SMALLS

“The Notorious B.I.G.” was the stage name of rap star Christopher Wallace, who also went by the names Big Poppa, Biggie Smalls and Biggie. While at the height of his fame, Wallace was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, a murder case that has never been solved. The 2009 movie “Notorious” is about Wallace’s life and stars fellow rap artist Jamal Woolard (aka Gravy) in the title role.

17 Aucklander, e.g. : KIWI

Unlike many nicknames for people of a particular country, the name “Kiwi” for a New Zealander isn’t offensive at all. The term comes from the flightless bird called the kiwi, which is endemic to New Zealand and is the country’s national symbol. “Kiwi” is a Maori word, and the plural (when referring to the bird) is simply “kiwi”. However, when you have two or more New Zealanders with you, they are Kiwis (note the “s”, and indeed the capital “K”!).

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and is located on the nation’s North Island. The metropolis is named for former Governor-General of India George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland.

18 Blue grp. : DNC

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) was set up way back in 1848, and governs the day-to-day affairs of the Democratic Party. Past chairpersons of the DNC include Howard Dean from Vermont, Chris Dodd from Connecticut and Tim Kaine from Virginia.

On political maps, red states are usually Republican and blue states usually Democrat. The designation of red and blue states is a very recent concept, only introduced in the 2000 presidential election by TV journalist, the late Tim Russert. In retrospect, the choice of colors is surprising, as in other democracies around the world red is usually used to describe left-leaning socialist parties (the reds under the bed!), and blue is used for conservative right-wing parties. In election cycles, swing/battleground states are often depicted in purple.

19 Suave and sophisticated : URBANE

We use “urbane” today to describe something courteous or refined. Back in the 1500s, the term was used in the same way that we now use “urban”. Those townsfolk thought they were more sophisticated than the country folk, and so the usage evolved.

20 Literary character with an eponymous chain of seafood restaurants : LONG JOHN SILVER

Long John Silver is a character in the novella “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS). Long John is a pirate with a peg leg.’

24 Big name in contact lens care : RENU

ReNu is a brand name of contact lens products sold by Bausch & Lomb.

30 Harbinger : OMEN

A harbinger is a person or a thing that indicates what is to come. The word comes from the Middle English “herbenger” describing a person sent ahead to arrange lodgings.

31 What a monkey has that an ape doesn’t : TAIL

Apes and monkeys both belong to the order of primates. The most obvious way to distinguish apes from monkeys is by the presence or lack of a tail. Almost all apes have no tail, and almost all monkeys have tails.

34 Roman equivalent of the Greek Helios : SOL

Helios was the god of the Sun in Greek mythology, and is the reason that we use the prefix “helio-” to mean “sun”. He was the brother of Selene, the goddess of the moon, and Eos, the goddess of the dawn. Helios drove his chariot of the sun across the sky during the day, returning to the East at night by traveling through the ocean. The Roman equivalent to Helios was Sol.

Sol was the Roman god personifying the Sun. For centuries, English astronomers have used the name “Sol” for our sun, to distinguish it from suns in other planetary systems.

39 One of the women in “Little Women” : MEG

The “Little Women” in Louisa May Alcott’s classic (1868) novel are all sisters. The names of the five main characters in the book are a mother and her four daughters:

  • Margaret “Marmee” (the mother)
  • Margaret “Meg”
  • Josephine “Jo”
  • Elizabeth “Beth”
  • Amy Curtis

40 Beginning or end for Alexa? : SCHWA

A schwa is an unstressed and toneless vowel found in a number of languages including English. Examples from our language are the “a” in “about”, the “e” in “taken” and the “i” in pencil.

43 Nickname for Gotham City’s protector : THE BAT

Batman is an ally of Police Commissioner Gordon of Gotham City. Gordon orders the shining of a searchlight, known as the Bat-Signal, into the sky to summon Batman when he is needed.

47 Ponied up : PAID

“To pony up” means “to pay”. Apparently, the term originated as a slang use of the Latin “legem pone” that was once used for “money”. “Legem Pone” was the title of the Psalm that was read out on March 25 each year, and March 25 was the first payday of the year in days gone by.

48 Butcher birds : SHRIKES

Shrikes are nasty little creatures. They look very cute and cuddly, and are about 20 inches long. They have a slightly hooked beak, just like a bird of prey. They also have the remarkable habit of catching their prey, usually insects, small birds or mammals, and impaling them on thorns. That way shrikes can rip the cadaver apart, and possibly store it on the thorn for future meals.

54 Winter coat : RIME

Rime is the beautiful coating of ice that forms on surfaces like roofs, trees and grass, when cold water freezes instantly under the right conditions.

55 Grateful Dead founding member Bob : WEIR

The Grateful Dead were a rock band from the San Francisco Bay Area that was founded in 1965. “The Dead” disbanded in 1995 following the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. Grateful Dead fans (the ranks of whom include my wife) refer to themselves as “Deadheads”.

56 Like “Blade Runner” and “Fahrenheit 451” : DYSTOPIAN

A dystopia is an imaginary community in which the residents live unhappily and in fear. “Dystopia” is the opposite of “utopia”. One example of such a society is that described by George Orwell in “Nineteen Eighty-Four”. A more contemporary example would be the setting for the novel “The Hunger Games”.

“Blade Runner” is a cult classic, a sci-fi film made in 1982 loosely based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. It was directed by Ridley Scott who regards “Blade Runner” as his most “complete” film. There is a phenomenon known as the “‘Blade Runner’ Curse”. An inordinate number of companies behind products that were displayed prominently in the movie found themselves in financial trouble soon after the movie’s release. Included in the list of troubled concerns are Atari, Cuisinart, Pan Am and the Bell System.

“Fahrenheit 451” is a 1953 novel by Ray Bradbury that tells the story of a future American society that discourages the reading of books. The main character’s job is that of a “fireman”, someone responsible for burning books. The title was chosen to supposedly represent the temperature at which book paper will burn, although whether that temperature is accurate or not seems to be up for debate. The novel was adapted into a 1966 movie with the same title starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner.

66 ___ Millions : MEGA

The Mega Millions lottery game is available in most states of the US, as is its major rival called Powerball.

69 Misnomer for the character Fritz in the original “Frankenstein” (1931) : IGOR

In the world of movies, Igor has been the assistant to Dracula, Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein among others. Igor is almost invariably portrayed as a hunchback.

Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel has the full title of “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”. The subtitle underscores one of the themes of the book, i.e. a warning about the expansion into the Industrial Revolution.

Down

1 Shaggy, horned beast : YAK

The English word “yak” is an Anglicized version of the Tibetan name for the male of the species. Yak milk is much prized in Tibetan culture. It is made into cheese and butter, and the butter is used to make a tea that is consumed in great volume by Tibetans. The butter is also used as a fuel in lamps, and during festivals the butter is even sculpted into religious icons.

4 Pandemic cause of 2009 : SWINE FLU

There was a 2009 outbreak of swine flu in humans that was blamed for 17,700 deaths worldwide.

5 Time in the dog days of summer : MID-JULY

Our month of July used to be called “Quintilis” in ancient Rome. “Quintilis” is Latin for “fifth”, and it was the fifth month of the year back then. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, the Roman Senate renamed Quintilis to Julius, in his honor, which evolved into our “July”. The month of August, originally called “Sextilis” in Latin, was renamed in honor of Augustus.

6 365 giorni : ANNO

In Italian, there are “sette” (seven) “giorni” (days) in a week, and 356 in an “anno” (year).

10 Film production company founded by Steven Spielberg : AMBLIN

Director Steven Spielberg has had so many hit movies. Spielberg won two Best Director Oscars, one being “Schindler’s List” from 1993 and “Saving Private Ryan” from 1998. Three Spielberg films broke box office records: “Jaws” (1975), “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) and “Jurassic Park” (1993). That’s quite a portfolio of movies …

11 Bail, so to speak : LEAVE

The phrase “to bail out” (sometimes just “to bail”) means to leave suddenly. We’ve been using the term since the early thirties, when it originated with airline pilots. To bail out is to make a parachute jump.

13 Hägar the Horrible’s dog : SNERT

“Hägar the Horrible” is a comic strip that was created by the late Dik Browne and is now drawn by his son, Chris Browne. “Hägar the Terrible” (not “Horrible”) was the nickname given to Dik by his sons. The strip’s title character is a red-bearded Viking living on the Norwegian coast during the Middle Ages. Hägar lives with his overbearing wife Helga, his sensitive son Hamlet, his pretty daughter Honi, and his clever dog Snert.

21 Shaggy, horned beast : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

22 It glows orange-red when placed in an electric field : NEON GAS

Neon (Ne) was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists, Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They then warmed that liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

27 “___ Kett” (old comic strip that taught teens manners) : ETTA

“Etta Kett” was a comic strip that first ran in 1925. The strip ceased to be published in 1974, when creator Paul Robinson passed away. The initial intent was to offer tips to teenagers on manners and social graces, hence the name of the title character Etta Kett (sounds like “etiquette”).

33 It’s a trap! : WEB

The silk that makes up a web is a protein fiber that is “spun” by a spider. Spider silk is about one sixth of the density of steel, yet has a comparable tensile strength.

34 “Come on, move it!” : SHAKE A PEG!

“To shake a leg” can mean “to dance”, but also “to hurry up”.

36 Blokes : LADS

“Bloke” is British slang for “fellow”. The etymology of “bloke” seems to have been lost in the mists of time.

38 John Deere logo animal : STAG

John Deere invented the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Prior to Deere’s invention, farmers used an iron or wooden plow that constantly had to be cleaned as rich soil stuck to its surfaces. The cast-steel plow was revolutionary as its smooth sides solved the problem of “stickiness”. The Deere company that John founded uses the slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere”, and has a leaping deer as its logo.

41 Hit CBS series that, despite its name, was filmed primarily in California : CSI: MIAMI

I quite enjoy the “CSI” franchise of television shows, all except “CSI: Miami”. I find the character played by David Caruso to be extremely annoying. “CSI: Miami” was canceled in 2012. No loss …

45 Like Louis Armstrong’s singing : THROATY

Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans in 1900. Armstrong had a poor upbringing, and only stayed in school until he was 11 years old. The exact origin of Louis’s nickname “Satchmo” seems to be a little unclear. One story is that he used to dance for pennies in New Orleans as a youngster and would hide those pennies in his mouth away from the other kids. For this he earned the nickname “satchel mouth”, which was shortened to “Satchmo”.

49 Grave letters : RIP

Rest in peace (RIP)

51 Modern payment method : VENMO

Venmo is a smartphone payment app that is now owned by PayPal. The first version of the product was introduced in 2009 by two entrepreneurs who had met as freshman students at the University of Pennsylvania. They sold the company in 2012 for over $26 million, and then PayPal acquired it the following year for a whopping $800 million. I wonder if PayPal ever buys blogs …

52 Order to attack : SIC ON

To sic on is to let at or set on. The verb “to sic on” comes from the attack command given to a dog “sic ‘em”.

53 Hurdles for aspiring D.A.s : LSATS

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

63 Double eagle plus three : PAR

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.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hankerings : YENS
5 About seven or eight weeks before 5-Down : MAY
8 Rapper Biggie ___ : SMALLS
14 State : AVOW
15 What can precede heartbeat or nutshell : IN A …
16 Arrived : CAME IN
17 Aucklander, e.g. : KIWI
18 Blue grp. : DNC
19 Suave and sophisticated : URBANE
20 Literary character with an eponymous chain of seafood restaurants : LONG JOHN SILVER
24 Big name in contact lens care : RENU
25 Most itsy-bitsy : TEENIEST
27 Talking-tos : EARFULS
30 Harbinger : OMEN
31 What a monkey has that an ape doesn’t : TAIL
32 Snoozefest : YAWNER
34 Roman equivalent of the Greek Helios : SOL
37 Country that lacks an official language, informally : THE US
39 One of the women in “Little Women” : MEG
40 Beginning or end for Alexa? : SCHWA
42 Dunderhead : ASS
43 Nickname for Gotham City’s protector : THE BAT
46 Expressed : SAID
47 Ponied up : PAID
48 Butcher birds : SHRIKES
50 You might see snow when it’s disrupted : TV SIGNAL
54 Winter coat : RIME
55 Grateful Dead founding member Bob : WEIR
56 Like “Blade Runner” and “Fahrenheit 451” : DYSTOPIAN
59 Cocoon : ENCASE
61 “So clever!” : AHA!
62 Each : A POP
64 One who’s far from stone-faced : EMOTER
65 Beauty that’s only skin deep, for short? : TAT
66 ___ Millions : MEGA
67 “Nothing to report” : NO NEWS
68 Absolute dump : STY
69 Misnomer for the character Fritz in the original “Frankenstein” (1931) : IGOR

Down

1 Shaggy, horned beast : YAK
2 Word with twin or grin : EVIL …
3 “It’s all good” : NO WORRIES
4 Pandemic cause of 2009 : SWINE FLU
5 Time in the dog days of summer : MID-JULY
6 365 giorni : ANNO
7 An extravagant one might have a swimming pool : YACHT
8 “Uh, what was that?” : ‘SCUSE ME?
9 Seafarers : MARINERS
10 Film production company founded by Steven Spielberg : AMBLIN
11 Bail, so to speak : LEAVE
12 What an actor studies : LINES
13 Hägar the Horrible’s dog : SNERT
21 Shaggy, horned beast : GNU
22 It glows orange-red when placed in an electric field : NEON GAS
27 “___ Kett” (old comic strip that taught teens manners) : ETTA
28 Sounds at a fireworks show : AAHS
29 Expensive shipping option : SAME DAY
33 It’s a trap! : WEB
34 “Come on, move it!” : SHAKE A PEG!
35 Toddler’s boo-boo : OWIE
36 Blokes : LADS
38 John Deere logo animal : STAG
41 Hit CBS series that, despite its name, was filmed primarily in California : CSI: MIAMI
44 Impedes : HINDERS
45 Like Louis Armstrong’s singing : THROATY
47 One with an “eye patch,” hook hand and peg leg, as represented in this puzzle’s grid : PIRATE
49 Grave letters : RIP
50 One getting “the talk,” say : TWEEN
51 Modern payment method : VENMO
52 Order to attack : SIC ON
53 Hurdles for aspiring D.A.s : LSATS
57 “Top ___!” : THAT
58 Scuttled : NO-GO
60 Fix a hole, in a way : SEW
63 Double eagle plus three : PAR

10 thoughts on “1208-22 NY Times Crossword 8 Dec 22, Thursday”

  1. 27:20, no errors. Lost a couple minutes trying to find an error, only to discover that my tablet changed the Y in THROATY/STY to a T.

  2. 16:17. Got the theme…sort of. Didn’t see all the nuances to it until I came here.

    I’ll never understand the popularity and in some cases people’s obsession about PIRATES. We’ve romanticized them to death, but does anyone actually know who these people were? They were murderers, thieves, kidnappers, rapists – the worst dregs of society. Now they’re our heroes. Showing my age, perhaps?

    I was wondering if LONG JOHN S_LVERS (the restaurant) still existed. I Googled it for here in Las Vegas. There are 2 of them, and the closest is about 20 miles from me. I doubt I’ll make it up there for that…

    Best –

  3. 18:30 I had a far easier time with this one versus Tuesday. My whole week has been upside down anyway, why should the puzzle be any different? 🤔

  4. Same as @DuncanR on the Tuesday V Thursday thingy.
    26:40 no errors today and DNF on Tuesday. Maybe the two setter thing on Tuesday had something to do with it.
    Stay safe😀

    1. I’m not convinced that timing is an accurate measure of difficulty, but … I checked my records:

      NYT, Tuesday, 12/06: 13:39, no errors.

      NYT, Thursday, 12/08: 13:17, no errors.

      So … make of it what you will … 😜.

    2. More food for thought: Bill’s times for Tuesday and Thursday were 7:26 and 10:01, respectively.

      One more, possibly relevant, comment: The Tuesday crossword was created by Ross Trudeau and Wyna Liu. I’ve been doing the puzzles Ross posts on his web site for some time now and I’ve done several of Wyna’s puzzles recently. A bit of familiarity with their “style” could make a difference, I suppose.

  5. No errors, fun theme, fairly easy.

    I never would have understood the
    “J flush” with out the 47D hint
    hook hand…ha ha 😝

  6. @Bill: I like your comment about actor David Caruso. I remember when he played a wimpy cop in “Rambo: First Blood”, and then wasn’t he the first male actor to do a full-frontal nude scene on NYPD Blue?

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