1218-22 NY Times Crossword 18 Dec 22, Sunday

Constructed by: Ryan McCarty
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Some Theme’s Missing

Unusually, we have a themeless, Sunday puzzle today …

Bill’s time: 24m 42s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

8 Word of gratitude overseas : MERCI

“Thank you” translates to “merci” in French, “gracias” in Spanish, and “danke” in German.

18 Bunk : BALONEY

“Baloney” is an American English variant of “Bologna” as in the sausage. The term came to be used to mean “nonsense” in the 1920s. “Baloney” was popularized in the 1930s by New York Governor Alfred E. Smith as he used the term quite often.

The word “bunk” is short for “bunkum”, the phonetic spelling of “Buncombe”, which is a county in North Carolina. Supposedly, a state representative made a dull and irrelevant speech that was directed to his home county of Buncombe, bringing the term “bunkum” into the language with the meaning of “nonsense”. The derivative word “debunk” first appeared in a novel by William Woodward in 1923, when he used it to describe “taking the bunk out of things”.

19 One might crawl out of the woodwork : CARPENTER ANT

Carpenter ants can wreak havoc in a wooden structure. They burrow into damp wood creating galleries and pathways that form a complex network of nests. Unlike termites though, carpenter ants don’t feed on the wood.

26 Persian polymath Khayyám : OMAR

Omar Khayyám was a Persian with many talents. He was a poet as well as an important mathematician, astronomer and physician. A selection of his poems were translated by one Edward Fitzgerald in a collection called “Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám”. Here are some famous lines from that collection:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

27 Quibbles : CARPS

The word “carp” used to mean simply “talk” back in the 13th century, with its roots in the Old Norwegian “karpa” meaning “to brag”. A century later, the Latin word “carpere” meaning “to slander” influenced the use of “to carp” so that it came to mean “to find fault with”.

28 Many a consulting hire, for short : MBA

The world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered by Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, in 1908.

30 Loretta who played “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H” : SWIT

Loretta Swit started playing Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H” in 1972. She and Alan Alda were the only actors who appeared in both the pilot and the series finale. Swit has written a book on needlepoint, would you believe? It’s called “A Needlepoint Scrapbook”.

31 All-woman rock band with the 1982 hit “Vacation” : GO-GOS

The Go-Go’s were an all-female rock band that was formed in Los Angeles back in 1978. The band’s biggest hit is “We Got the Beat”, which was released in 1982. The best-known member of the Go-Go’s is probably Belinda Carlisle.

41 Largest U.S. state capital by population, on a postmark : PHOENIX, AZ

Phoenix is the capital of the state of Arizona. The city started out as a farming community founded by a Civil War veteran. Key to the success of the community was the construction of canals that were really contemporary improvements to canals that had previously been built by the local Hohokam people.

43 When doubled, a classic Mardi Gras tune : IKO

“Iko Iko” is a song written in 1953 by Sugar Boy Crawford, using the title “Jock-A-Mo”. The Dixie Cups recorded a cover version in 1965, calling it “Iko Iko”. Crawford ended up suing the Dixie Cups as the 1965 song was recorded without reference to the 1953 original.

44 Annual honors celebrating African American achievement : BET AWARDS

Black Entertainment Television (BET) is a TV network with programming primarily aimed at the African-American community. BET was launched in 1980, and is now owned by Viacom.

46 Likely Cotton Bowl attendee : TEXAN

The Cotton Bowl college football game was played from its inception in 1937 until 2009 at the Texas State Fair Grounds. The game moved to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in 2010.

58 “Boxcars” : SIXES

“Boxcars” is a slang term for two sixes rolled on a pair of dice, particularly in the game of craps. The idea is that the twelve pips on the dice resemble a pair of boxcars on a freight train.

60 Style of column at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate : DORIC

The Doric was one of the three classical orders of architecture, the others being the Corinthian and the Ionic. The Doric was the earliest of the three orders, and the simplest.

69 Turf ___ (football injury) : TOE

Turf toe is a sports injury associated with play on artificial turf or any other surface without much give. It is a sprain of the ligaments around one or more toe joints, particularly the big toe. The medical term for the injury is “metatarsophalangeal joint sprain”.

74 Piece of fudge? : FIB

To fib is to tell a lie. The verb “to fib” likely comes from “fibble-fable” meaning “nonsense”, with “fibble-fable” coming from “fable”.

79 Muslim leader : IMAM

An imam is a Muslim leader, and often the person in charge of a mosque and/or perhaps a Muslim community.

81 Volleyball star-turned-model Gabrielle : REECE

Gabrielle Reece is quite the athlete. She was on the team that won the first ever Beach Volleyball World Championship, in 1997. She is also a great golfer, and tried hard to make it onto the LPGA circuit.

82 Close up on the screen? : GLENN

Glenn Close is a wonderful actress who has played many varied roles, but is well known for her portrayals of less than wholesome characters. She played the crazy Alex Forrest in “Fatal Attraction”, and Cruella de Vil in “101 Dalmatians”. More recently, Close had a regular role on a TV show called “Damages”. Glenn Close is an avid fan of the New York Mets and regularly sings the national anthem before games. As of 2021, Close is tied with Peter O’Toole for the record for the most Oscar acting nominations without a win (that would be eight).

83 Scotland’s ___ Lomond : LOCH

I would guess that Loch Lomond is one of the two most famous lakes in Scotland. Loch Ness is famous for its “monster”, and Loch Lomond is famous for the lovely song “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road …

86 Neighbor of India: Abbr. : PAK

The suffix “-stan” in many place names is Persian for “place of”. One example is “Pakistan”, the Place of the Pure. “Pakistan” is a relatively recent name, coined in 1933. It comes from the abbreviation PAKSTAN, standing for Punjab – Afghan Province – Kashmir – Sindh – BaluchisTAN, all regions in the north of India. The “I” was added to Pakistan to make it easier to pronounce, and to fit the translation “Land of the Pure”.

88 Group once led by Darth Sidious : SITH

The Sith are characters in the “Star Wars” universe who use the “dark side” of “the Force”, and as such are the antithesis of the Jedi Knights. Members of the Sith use the title “Darth” before their name, as in Darth Vader. The last made of the six “Star Wars” movies is called “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”.

Palpatine is the Dark Lord of the Sith in the “Star Wars” universe. He is also known as “Darth Sidious” and “the Emperor”. In most of the films in the series, Palpatine is played by Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid. In “The Empire Strikes Back”, he was actually played by a woman. Palpatine was portrayed physically by the wife of special makeup effects artist Rick Baker, and voiced by New Zealand actor Clive Revill.

89 Paintings such as “View of Toledo” : EL GRECOS

El Greco (“the Greek”, in Spanish) was the nickname of the artist whose real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos. He was born in Crete in 1541, and moved to Venice to study art when he was in his early twenties. A few years later he moved to the city of Toledo in central Spain, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

Toledo is a city in central Spain that is located just over 40 miles south of the capital Madrid. Toledo is sometimes called the “City of Three Cultures”, due to the historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish traditions.

91 Given name of Caligula and Augustus : GAIUS

Caligula was emperor of Rome after Tiberius, and before Claudius. “Caligula” was actually a nickname for Gaius Germanicus. Gaius’s father was a successful general in the Roman army and his soldiers called young Gaius “Caligula”, meaning “little soldier’s boot”.

Gaius Octavius Thurinus (often called “Octavian”) was the adopted son of Gaius Julius Caesar. After Julius Caesar was assassinated, Octavian came to power in Rome and teamed up with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in what was called the Second Triumvirate. When the triumvirate fell apart, especially after Antony’s defeat at Actium, Octavian became more powerful within the Roman Republic. Several years later he wrested sufficient power from the Roman Senate to end the Republic and begin the Roman Empire. As the first Emperor of Rome, Octavian was given the name Caesar Augustus. The month of August, originally called “Sextilis” in Latin, was renamed in honor of Augustus.

94 Joint accounts? : POLICE REPORTS

The cooler, the pen, the joint, the slammer, the can … the prison.

96 Québécois dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy : POUTINE

Poutine is a dish that originated in rural Quebec in the late fifties. It is made with french fries covered in a brown gravy sauce, all topped with cheese curds.

101 Wee bit : SMIDGEN

Our word “smidgen” (sometimes shortened to “smidge”) is used to describe a small amount. The term might come from the Scots word “smitch” that means the same thing or “a small insignificant person”.

Down

7 Pink Floyd co-founder Barrett : SYD

Syd Barrett was the lead singer and a founding member of the English rock band Pink Floyd. Barrett was only active as a musician for just over ten years. He retired from the music scene in 1975 and spent the next 30 years living off Pink Floyd royalties until he passed away in 2006.

9 Hebrides tongue : ERSE

There are actually three Erse languages: Irish, Manx (spoken on the Isle of Man) and Scots Gaelic. In their own tongues, these would be “Gaeilge” (in Ireland), “Gaelg” (on the Isle of Man) and “Gaidhlig” (in Scotland).

The Hebrides are a group of islands just off the west coast of Scotland. They are divided into two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

10 Engineering sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a private school in Troy, New York. The university is named after its founder Stephen Van Rensselaer who set up the school in 1824. The goal of RPI has always been the “application of science to the common purposes of life”, an objective set by the founder. Given that, the name for the school’s sports teams is quite apt: the Engineers.

16 Really hot, slangily : EN FUEGO

A sports player who is doing really well might be said to be “on fire”. Sometimes “on fire” is translated into Spanish, and the person is said to be “en fuego”.

20 Lil Wayne’s “___ Carter V” : THA

“Lil Wayne” is the stage name used by rap artist Dwayne Carter, Jr. from New Orleans.

30 Skedaddles : SPLITS

“Skedaddle” is a slang term meaning “run away”, one that dates back to the Civil War.

33 Early springtime woe : TAXES

April 15th wasn’t always Tax Day in the US. The deadline for returns was March 1st from 1913-18, when it was moved to March 15th. Tax Day has been April 15th since 1955.

36 Neighbor of the Q key : TAB

When we run a “tab” at a bar, we are running a “tabulation”, a listing of what we owe. Such a use of “tab” is American slang that originated in the 1880s.

38 Their business is picking up : TAXIS

We call cabs “taxis”, a word derived from “taximeter cabs” that were introduced in London in 1907. A taximeter was an automated meter designed to record distance traveled and fare to be charged. The term “taximeter” evolved from “taxameter”, with “taxa” being Latin for “tax, charge”.

42 “White Teeth” novelist Smith : ZADIE

Zadie Smith is an author from the UK whose first novel, “White Teeth”, became an immediate best-seller in 2000. Apparently, a partial manuscript was so well-received by insiders that a bidding war developed for the rights to publish “White Teeth”.

57 Landing sites for bees : STAMENS

The stamen is the male reproductive organ of a flower. The part of the stamen known as the anther sits on a stalk called the filament that carries the pollen. The pollen is picked up by insects, especially bees, who then transfer pollen from flower to flower. The pistil is the female reproductive organ, and it accepts the pollen.

63 Elizabeth who starred in Marvel’s “WandaVision” : OLSEN

“WandaVision” is a TV miniseries featuring characters from Marvel Comics. The title characters are Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) played by Elizabeth Olsen and Vision played by Paul Bettany. I am by no means a fan of screen adaptations of comic characters, but I might take a look at “WandaVision”. Wanda and Vision are living in suburbia, trying to conceal their superhero identities. Each episode progresses the storyline through several decades, using situations encountered in sitcoms of the day. Episodes use the format of shows such as:

  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • I Love Lucy
  • Bewitched
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Good Times
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Full House
  • Malcolm in the Middle
  • Modern Family
  • Out of this World
  • The Twilight Zone

Sounds very intriguing …

66 Gets there in no time? : TELEPORTS

Teleportation is a favorite of authors of science fiction. The hypothetical process results in the transfer of matter from one point to another, with actually crossing the intervening space. Beam me up, Scotty!

68 Defensive badminton shot : LOB

The game of badminton was developed in the mid-1700s by British military officers in India. There was already an old game called battledore and shuttlecock, so the creation of badminton was essentially the addition of a net and boundary lines for play. The game was launched officially as a sport in 1873 at Badminton House in Gloucestershire in England, hence the name that we now use.

82 Southern breakfast bowlful : GRITS

When grain has been separated from its chaff, to prepare it for grinding, it is called “grist”. Indeed, the word “grist” is derived from the word “grind”. Grist can be ground into a relatively coarse meal, or into a fine flour. The names can be confusing though. For example, the grist from maize when ground to a coarse consistency is called “grits”, and when ground to a fine consistency is called “corn meal”. There is an idiomatic phrase “grist for one’s mill”, meaning something used to one’s advantage. The grinding mechanism, or the building that holds the mechanism, is known as a “gristmill”.

87 Soul singer Thomas : CARLA

Carla Thomas is a singer from Memphis, Tennessee who is referred to as the Queen of Memphis Soul. Carla’s father was R&B singer Rufus Thomas.

88 Mecca resident : SAUDI

Mecca is in the Makkah province of Saudi Arabia. It was the birthplace of Muhammad and is the holiest city in Islam. Every year several million Muslims perform the Hajj, a holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

91 Parent of kids : GOAT

Male goats are bucks or billies, although castrated males are known as wethers. Female goats are does or nannies, and young goats are referred to as kids.

92 Mix of sand, silt and clay : 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.

93 Many a TikTok user : TEEN

TikTok is a video-sharing service that is based in China, and is very popular with the younger set I am told). The TikTok mobile app provides tools facilitating production of sophisticated selfie videos that use special effects.

96 IT department inventory : PCS

The original IBM Personal Computer is model number 5150, which was introduced to the world on August 12, 1981. The term “personal computer” was already in use, but the success of the IBM 5150 led to the term “PC” being used for all computer products compatible with the IBM platform.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “I’m in heaven!” : AH BLISS!
8 Word of gratitude overseas : MERCI
13 Optimists keep them high : HOPES
18 Bunk : BALONEY
19 One might crawl out of the woodwork : CARPENTER ANT
21 Goofed (around) : CLOWNED
22 “I’m in heaven!” : THIS IS THE LIFE!
23 Entered a school zone, say : SLOWED
24 What used to be yours? : THINE
25 Got a newer smartphone, maybe : TRADED UP
26 Persian polymath Khayyám : OMAR
27 Quibbles : CARPS
28 Many a consulting hire, for short : MBA
29 They may be locked and loaded : SAFES
30 Loretta who played “Hot Lips” Houlihan on “M*A*S*H” : SWIT
31 All-woman rock band with the 1982 hit “Vacation” : GO-GOS
32 Bit of deception : FEINT
34 Scrubbed, as a rocket launch : NO-GO
35 Go through : PENETRATE
37 Moves to attack : COMES AT
39 ___ Carter, most-recorded jazz bassist in history : RON
40 Exercise typically done lying down : LEG RAISE
41 Largest U.S. state capital by population, on a postmark : PHOENIX, AZ
43 When doubled, a classic Mardi Gras tune : IKO
44 Annual honors celebrating African American achievement : BET AWARDS
46 Likely Cotton Bowl attendee : TEXAN
48 Place in math class : TENS
50 Many equal rights champions : FEMINISTS
52 Pros and cons, e.g. : SIDES
54 Peevish displays : SNITS
56 Welcome sights on road trips : REST STOPS
58 “Boxcars” : SIXES
60 Style of column at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate : DORIC
62 2017 chart-topping hit whose YouTube video was the first to reach 3 billion views : DESPACITO
64 Mark in art, in a way : ETCH
65 Playground game cry : NOT IT!
67 Joke that goes over the line? : CRANK CALL
69 Turf ___ (football injury) : TOE
70 Caused to kvell : MADE PROUD
72 “This really needs to stop!” : I’M SO DONE!
74 Piece of fudge? : FIB
77 Reveal the juiciest details : TELL ALL
78 Squatting motions : KNEE BENDS
79 Muslim leader : IMAM
81 Volleyball star-turned-model Gabrielle : REECE
82 Close up on the screen? : GLENN
83 Scotland’s ___ Lomond : LOCH
84 Charged : RAN AT
86 Neighbor of India: Abbr. : PAK
87 Having a sailor’s mouth, so to speak : CRASS
88 Group once led by Darth Sidious : SITH
89 Paintings such as “View of Toledo” : EL GRECOS
91 Given name of Caligula and Augustus : GAIUS
92 Harshly criticize : LASH AT
94 Joint accounts? : POLICE REPORTS
96 Québécois dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy : POUTINE
97 Some limited-time offers : ONE-SHOT DEALS
98 Rhythmic pattern : CADENCE
99 Peevish : TESTY
100 “Somewhat” : SORTA
101 Wee bit : SMIDGEN

Down

1 Fundamentals : ABCS
2 Portmanteau for an extended autumn celebration : HALLOWEEKEND
3 Fried appetizer that resembles a blossom : BLOOMING ONION
4 Ebb tide feature : LOW WATER
5 ___ child : INNER
6 Number in a tournament : SEED
7 Pink Floyd co-founder Barrett : SYD
8 Primary pipes : MAINS
9 Hebrides tongue : ERSE
10 Engineering sch. in Troy, N.Y. : RPI
11 “That’s fine,” in French : C’EST BIEN
12 Making its way there : IN TRANSIT
13 Doesn’t ignore : HEEDS
14 Author Susan played by Meryl Streep in 2002’s “Adaptation” : ORLEAN
15 Covered, in a way : PAID FOR
16 Really hot, slangily : EN FUEGO
17 Squooshes, maybe : STEPS ON
19 Bad things to find in a tea set : CHIPS
20 Lil Wayne’s “___ Carter V” : THA
22 Sudden pang : THROE
24 Worked on in tandem : TAG-TEAMED
27 Amusement park ride, informally : COASTER
28 Sort of investment purchase with a spike in popularity through social media : MEME STOCK
30 Skedaddles : SPLITS
31 “Oh, good ___!” : GRIEF
32 One might offer concessions : FOOD STAND
33 Early springtime woe : TAXES
36 Neighbor of the Q key : TAB
37 Basketball legend nicknamed the “Point God” : CHRIS PAUL
38 Their business is picking up : TAXIS
41 Term for a male opera character played by a woman : PANTS RULE
42 “White Teeth” novelist Smith : ZADIE
45 Witticism : WISECRACK
47 Very little : NEXT TO NOTHING
49 River: Ger. : STROM
51 Thai cuisine quality : SPICINESS
53 Opportunity to make things right : SECOND CHANCE
55 Occupy, as a booth : SIT AT
57 Landing sites for bees : STAMENS
59 “Good Lord!” : SHEESH!
61 Apple product : CIDER
63 Elizabeth who starred in Marvel’s “WandaVision” : OLSEN
66 Gets there in no time? : TELEPORTS
68 Defensive badminton shot : LOB
71 “Go right ahead!” : PLEASE DO!
73 Removed from an exchange : DELISTED
74 Earthenware container for transporting heat : FIREPOT
75 “No one’s here but me” : I’M ALONE
76 Ornamental bracelets : BANGLES
78 2019 animated Christmas film nominated for an Academy Award : KLAUS
80 New York college known for its polls : MARIST
82 Southern breakfast bowlful : GRITS
85 Into gadgets, say : TECHY
87 Soul singer Thomas : CARLA
88 Mecca resident : SAUDI
90 Boardroom V.I.P. : CEO
91 Parent of kids : GOAT
92 Mix of sand, silt and clay : LOAM
93 Many a TikTok user : TEEN
95 “___ my last email …” : PER
96 IT department inventory : PCS

9 thoughts on “1218-22 NY Times Crossword 18 Dec 22, Sunday”

  1. 18:02. Buzzed through this one in about 14-15 minutes, but had to find a fix a few errors (“prank call”, which is what we referred to them as when I was of that age; “Ino” instead of IKO; “Nadie instead of ZADIE). It was kind of liberating to not have to worry about a theme.

  2. 40:56. I say this every time, but I love these Sunday themeless puzzles. They should all be like this.

    It’s hard to overstate how popular POUTINE is in Canada. I’ve tried it a few times, but it’s too rich for me. I can handle 2 or 3 bites, and I’m done. Amazing how Canadians seem to stay so thin…

    Nice challenge

    Best –

    1. You’re obviously referring to the beloved ancient symbol of divinity and spirituality and not the one adopted by a certain 1930s German political party or current Ukrainian army units.

  3. Not sure what to post.
    This isn’t the crossword.
    Guess I’ll throw some NACL over my shoulder and move on.

Leave a Reply

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