0109-23 NY Times Crossword 9 Jan 23, Monday

Constructed by: Andrea Carla Michaels & Kevin Christian
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: AC/DC

Themed answers each include both of the letter pairings “AC” and “DC” hidden within:

  • 55D “Highway to Hell” rock group … or a hint to electrical switches found in 16-, 23-, 36-, 44-, and 57-Across : AC/DC
  • 16A Concept that can’t be criticized or questioned, metaphorically : SACRED COW
  • 23A Seafood often served with picks : CRACKED CRAB
  • 36A Pre-employment investigation : BACKGROUND CHECK
  • 44A Cocktail named for two iconic beverage brands : JACK AND COKE
  • 57A Behaved in a laid-back way : ACTED COOL

Bill’s time: 5m 55s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Nine-digit ID : SSN

A Social Security number (SSN) is divided into three parts, i.e AAA-GG-SSSS. Originally, the Area Number (AAA) was the code for the office that issued the card. Starting in 1973, the Area Number reflected the ZIP code from which the application was made. The GG in the SSN was the Group Number, and the SSSS number the Serial Number. This is all moot today. Since 2011, SSNs have been assigned randomly. Some random numbers, however, have been excluded from use, i.e. Area Numbers 000, 666 (!) and 900-999.

14 Noshed : ATE

Our word “nosh” has been around since the late fifties, when it was imported from the Yiddish word “nashn” meaning “to nibble”. We use “nosh” as a noun that means “snack”, or as a verb meaning “to eat between meals”.

16 Concept that can’t be criticized or questioned, metaphorically : SACRED COW

A sacred cow is something that is immune from criticism or questioning. The phrase alludes to the reverence for cows in the Hindu tradition. The use of figurative idiom seems to have originated in the late 1800s in the US.

18 Tennis’s Agassi : ANDRE

Retired tennis professional Andre Agassi has been married to fellow player Steffi Graf since 2001. Agassi wrote an autobiography called “Open”, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book is that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level with a rug stuck on?

19 Torah holders : ARKS

The Torah ark is found in a synagogue, and is the ornamental container in which the Torah scrolls are stored. The word “Torah” best translates as “teaching” or “law”, I am told.

20 Bigeye or yellowfin tuna, at a sushi bar : AHI

Yellowfin and bigeye tuna are usually marketed as “ahi”, the Hawaiian name. They are both big fish, with yellowfish tuna often weighing over 300 pounds, and bigeye tuna getting up to 400 pounds.

27 Chicago trains : ELS

The Chicago “L” is the second largest rapid transit system in the US, with the New York City Subway being the largest. The “L” is also the second oldest, again with the New York City Subway system having the honor of being around the longest. Note that the official nickname for the system is the “L” (originally short for “elevated railroad”), although the term “El” is also in common use (especially in crosswords as “ELS”). The L is managed by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).

30 Language spoken in Bangkok : THAI

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand. The exact etymology of the name “Bangkok” seems unclear, although “bang” is a Thai word for “a village situated on a stream”.

32 Ballet dancer’s knee bend : PLIE

The French word for “bent” is “plié”. In the ballet move known as a plié, the knees are bent. A “demi-plié” is a similar move, but with less bending of the knees. A fondu is similar to a plié, except that only one leg remains on the ground.

39 “A guy walks into a bar …” may start one : JOKE

Seeing as I’m one of three brothers, I have a favorite “So a guy walks into a bar” joke:

So a guy walks into a bar and orders three beers.

The bartender brings him the three beers, and the man proceeds to alternately sip one, then the other, then the third, until they’re gone. He then orders three more and the bartender says, “Sir, I know you like them cold, so you can start with one, and I’ll bring you a fresh one as soon as you’re low.” The man says, “You don’t understand. I have two brothers, one in Australia and one in Ireland. We made a vow to each other that every Saturday night, we’d still drink together. So right now, my brothers have three beers, too, and we’re drinking together.” The bartender thinks it’s a wonderful tradition, and every week he sets up the guy’s three beers. Then one week, the man comes in and orders only two. He drinks them and then orders two more. The bartender says sadly, “Knowing your tradition, I’d just like to just say that I’m sorry you’ve lost a brother.”

The man replies, “Oh, my brothers are fine — I just quit drinking.”

40 Caesar’s words to Brutus : ET TU?

It was Shakespeare who popularized the words “Et tu, Brute?” (meaning “And you, Brutus?”). They appear in his play “Julius Caesar”, although the phrase had been around long before he penned his drama. It’s not known what Julius Caesar actually said in real life (if anything at all) as he was assassinated on the steps of the Senate in Rome.

41 Music Mann? : AIMEE

Aimee Mann is a rock singer and guitarist from Virginia. Mann is married to Michael Penn, the brother of actor Sean Penn.

42 Shoofly ___ : PIE

Shoofly pie is made from molasses and is very similar to a treat that I grew up with back in Ireland called treacle tart, with molasses substituted for golden syrup. It is suggested that the name “shoofly” derives from the fact that flies have to be shooed away when they are attracted to the molasses.

43 Norway’s biggest city : OSLO

The Norwegian capital of Oslo is located at the northern end of a fjord known as Oslofjord. The fjord is home to 40 islands that lie within the city’s limits. Oslo also has 343 lakes.

44 Cocktail named for two iconic beverage brands : JACK AND COKE

I used to live in Tennessee, and one weekend took a tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg. After watching all the whiskey being produced, we were brought to a room for “refreshments”. We were given lemonade and no samples of the whiskey were offered, because the distillery is located in Moore County, Tennessee, a dry country …

50 Catch forty winks : NAP

Back in the early 1800s, folks took “nine winks” when getting a few minutes of sleep during the day. Dr. William Kitchiner extended this concept in his 1821 self-help book “The Art of Invigorating and Prolonging Life”. He suggested “A Forty Winks Nap”, which we seem to have been taking ever since. Mind you, I’m up to about eighty winks most days …

54 22-Across, in French : OUI
[22A Shout made with a fist pump : YES!]

In French, “oui” (yes) might be stated more emphatically as “certainement!” (certainly!).

56 Latin for “in itself” : PER SE

“Per se” is a Latin phrase that translates as “by itself”. We use “per se” pretty literally, meaning “in itself, intrinsically”.

60 Author Edgar Allan ___ : POE

Celebrated American writer Edgar Allan Poe (EAP) was born “Edgar Poe” in 1809 in Boston. Poe’s father abandoned Edgar and his two siblings after the death of their mother. As a result, Edgar was taken into the home of the Allan family in Richmond, Virginia. His foster parents gave the future author the name “Edgar Allan Poe”.

62 Army’s football rival : NAVY

The first Army-Navy football game took place in November 1890. The annual event is most often played in Philadelphia, as the city is about the same distance from the USMA at West Point, New York and the USNA at Anapolis, Maryland. One of the more memorable Army-Navy games (to trivia lovers) was played in 1893. That’s because Navy Midshipman Joseph M. Reeves wore a helmet, marking the first time a helmet was used for protection in a football game.

63 Mr. Potato Head piece : EAR

Mr. Potato Head is an enduring and popular toy that has been around since its invention by George Lerner in 1949. In its original form, the toy was a collection of eyes, ears, and other facial features, that were designed to be stuck into a real potato. Mr. Potato Head also has the distinction of being the first toy ever to be advertised on television.

64 Sell illegally, as tickets : SCALP

Scalping of tickets, selling them above retail price for an excessive profit, originated in the mid-1800s with scalpers making money off theater tickets. There was also quite a bit of money made by people scalping railway tickets. Railroads gave discounts on tickets for longer journeys, so someone trying to get from San Francisco to Chicago might buy a ticket to New York. Once in Chicago the passenger would scalp the remainder of his/her ticket to someone wanting to get to New York, and make his or her invested money back with a bonus. The exact etymology of the term “scalper” seems unclear.

Down

2 What a diagonal line represents on a bowling scoresheet : SPARE

In bowling, the downing of all ten pins in two balls in the same frame is called a spare, and scores ten points. The player gets a bonus, equal to the number of pins downed with the next ball, which could be up to ten. Hence, a spare can be worth up to 20 points

6 Borat creator ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA

Sacha Baron Cohen is a comedian and comic actor from England. He is perhaps most famous for playing the characters Borat and Ali G on the small and large screens. I’m wasn’t a fan, but I must admit that I really enjoyed 2020’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”.

7 Showing no emotion : STOIC

Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher famous for teaching at the Stoa Poikile, the “Painted Porch”, located on the north side of the Ancient Agora of Athens. Because of the location of his classes, his philosophy became known as stoicism (from “stoa”, the word for “porch”). We get our adjective “stoic”, meaning “indifferent to pleasure or pain”, from the same root.

11 Stage in a butterfly’s development : LARVA

The larva is an intermediate stage in the development of an insect. All four stages are embryo, larva, pupa and imago. “Larva” is a Latin word that can translate as “mask”. The term is used in the context of insects as the larval stage can “mask” the appearance of the adult.

12 Socially inept sort : DWEEB

“Dweeb” is relatively recent American slang that came out of college life in the late sixties. Dweeb, squarepants, nerd; they’re all not-nice terms that mean the same thing, i.e. someone excessively studious and socially inept.

15 Poets of yore : BARDS

The original bards were storytellers, poets and composers of music in medieval Britain and Ireland, with the term coming from the Old Celtic word “bardos” that described a poet or singer. I guess the most famous bard was William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon.

17 It’s tossed toward a bull’s-eye : DART

Darts is a game that’s often played in English and Irish pubs, even over here in America. The scoring in a traditional game of darts is difficult to describe in a sentence or two, but the game of darts called “Round the Clock” is simply hitting the numbers 1 through 20 on the dartboard in sequence.

21 Frozen : GELID

“Gelid” is such a lovely word, one with the meaning “icy cold”. “Gelid” derives from the Latin “gelum” meaning “frost, intense cold”.

23 Viet ___ (armed force of the 1960s-’70s) : CONG

“Viet Cong” was the name of the political and military organization based in South Vietnam that fought the US and South Vietnamese government during the Vietnam War. The American military referred to the Viet Cong as “the VC”. “VC” could be extended to “Victor Charlie” in the phonetic alphabet, and this was shortened to “Charlie”, which became a military slang term for the Viet Cong and other Communists.

24 Reeves of the “Matrix” films : KEANU

Actor Keanu Reeves was sitting on a park bench one day in 2010, eating a sandwich. He was hungry, and just thinking about things. Someone snapped a photograph, and the pensive look and pose was easily interpreted as indicative of sadness. The photo was shared online, and “Sad Keanu” became a thing, and Internet meme. Now there’s even a Cheer-up Keanu Day observed every year on June 15th.

The 1999 movie sensation “The Matrix” was meant to be set in a nondescript urban environment. It was actually shot in Australia, as one of the co-producers of the film was the Australian company, Village Roadshow Pictures. You can pick up all sorts of clues about the location when watching the film, including a view of Sydney Harbour Bridge in a background shot. Also, traffic drives along on the left and there are signs for the “lift” instead of an “elevator”.

28 Gooey lunchbox sandwich, informally : PBJ

Peanut butter and jelly (PB&J or PBJ)

29 Language spoken in Vientiane : LAO

Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, and is situated on the Mekong River. The city was originally called the “city of sandalwood” by Buddhist monks, naming it after the valued trees that grew in the area. The French took the Pali words for “city of sandalwood” and rewrote it as the French-sounding “Vientiane”.

30 Schlepped : TOTED

Our word “schlep” (sometimes “schlepp”) means “carry, drag”. “Schlep” comes from Yiddish, with “shlepen” having the same meaning.

32 TV’s Dr. ___ : PHIL

Dr. Phil (McGraw) met Oprah Winfrey when he was hired to work with her as a legal consultant during the Amarillo Texas beef trial (when the industry sued Oprah for libel over “Mad Cow Disease” statements). Oprah was impressed with Dr. Phil, and invited him onto her show. We haven’t stopped seeing him since …

33 San Pellegrino offering : LEMON SODA

S.Pellegrino (usually just “Pellegrino”) is a brand of mineral water from Italy. It is produced in the comune of San Pellegrino Terme (hence the name) in Lombardy in the north of the country. The water industry in San Pellegrino has been around a long time, with commercial production starting in the 14th century.

43 “The Grapes of Wrath” figure : OKIE

John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath” is set during the Great Depression. It tells the story of the Joad family from Oklahoma, farmers who had to leave their home and head for California due to economic hardship.

44 Mount Fuji’s locale : JAPAN

Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest and most famous mountain. Located just west of Tokyo, Mount Fuji is an active volcano, although its last eruption took place in 1707/1708.

45 Amazon “assistant” : ALEXA

Alexa is a personal assistant application that is most associated with Amazon Echo smart speakers. Apparently, one reason the name “Alexa” was chosen is because it might remind one of the Library of Alexandria, the “keeper of all knowledge”.

47 Ken who wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” : KESEY

Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is set in a psychiatric hospital in Salem, Oregon. The novel was adapted into a stage play in 1963 starring Kirk Douglas, who had purchased the rights to produce it on stage and screen. The film version was finally made in 1975, with Kirk Douglas’s son Michael Douglas as co-producer.

48 Hot drink with marshmallows : COCOA

The beverages hot cocoa and hot chocolate differ from each other in that the latter contains cocoa butter, whereas the former does not.

49 Word before space or limits : OUTER …

The exploration and use of outer space is governed by the Outer Space Treaty that came into force in 1967. The initial signatories were the US, UK and USSR, and now 102 nations are party to the treaty. For the purposes of the treaty, outer space begins at the Kármán line, a theoretical sphere that lies at an altitude of 100km about the Earth’s sea level.

51 Coral islet chain : ATOLL

An atoll is a coral island that is shaped in a ring that encloses a lagoon. There is still some debate as to how an atoll forms, but a theory proposed by Charles Darwin while on his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle still holds sway. Basically, an atoll was once a volcanic island that had subsided and fallen into the sea. The coastline of the island is home to coral growth which persists even as the island continues to subside inside the circling coral reef.

52 Coral reef producer : POLYP

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.

55 “Highway to Hell” rock group … or a hint to electrical switches found in 16-, 23-, 36-, 44-, and 57-Across : AC/DC

The Heavy Metal band known as AC/DC was formed by two brothers Malcolm and Angus Young in Australia. Malcolm and Angus chose the name “AC/DC” after their sister Margaret noticed them on a sewing machine (the abbreviation for alternating current/direct current). The group is usually called “Acca Dacca” down under.

57 Gorilla, e.g. : APE

The gorilla is the largest primate still in existence, and is one of the nearest living species to humans. Molecular biology studies have shown that our nearest relatives are in fact the species in the genus Pan (the chimpanzee and the bonobo), which split from the human branch of the family 4-6 million years ago. Gorillas and humans diverged at a point about 7 million years ago. The term “gorilla” derives from the Greek “gorillai” meaning “tribe of hairy women”. Wow …!

58 Uno + uno : DOS

In Spanish, “dos” (two) is “uno y uno” (one plus one).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Crooked, as a painting on the wall : ASKEW
6 Nine-digit ID : SSN
9 How revenge (or pizza for breakfast) is best served : COLD
13 Steeple : SPIRE
14 Noshed : ATE
15 Corporate rule or regulation : BYLAW
16 Concept that can’t be criticized or questioned, metaphorically : SACRED COW
18 Tennis’s Agassi : ANDRE
19 Torah holders : ARKS
20 Bigeye or yellowfin tuna, at a sushi bar : AHI
21 Feel great sorrow : GRIEVE
22 Shout made with a fist pump : YES!
23 Seafood often served with picks : CRACKED CRAB
25 Dab, as with a paper towel : BLOT
27 Chicago trains : ELS
28 Not showy : PLAIN
30 Language spoken in Bangkok : THAI
32 Ballet dancer’s knee bend : PLIE
36 Pre-employment investigation : BACKGROUND CHECK
39 “A guy walks into a bar …” may start one : JOKE
40 Caesar’s words to Brutus : ET TU?
41 Music Mann? : AIMEE
42 Shoofly ___ : PIE
43 Norway’s biggest city : OSLO
44 Cocktail named for two iconic beverage brands : JACK AND COKE
50 Catch forty winks : NAP
53 Changes, as a hemline : ALTERS
54 22-Across, in French : OUI
55 Regarding : AS TO
56 Latin for “in itself” : PER SE
57 Behaved in a laid-back way : ACTED COOL
59 Connections for car wheels : AXLES
60 Author Edgar Allan ___ : POE
61 In an unusual way : ODDLY
62 Army’s football rival : NAVY
63 Mr. Potato Head piece : EAR
64 Sell illegally, as tickets : SCALP

Down

1 Test for purity : ASSAY
2 What a diagonal line represents on a bowling scoresheet : SPARE
3 Relaxes : KICKS BACK
4 Commits a fumble : ERRS
5 Small, to a Scot : WEE
6 Borat creator ___ Baron Cohen : SACHA
7 Showing no emotion : STOIC
8 Either “N” in NY, NY : NEW
9 Jaded doubter : CYNIC
10 More ancient : OLDER
11 Stage in a butterfly’s development : LARVA
12 Socially inept sort : DWEEB
15 Poets of yore : BARDS
17 It’s tossed toward a bull’s-eye : DART
21 Frozen : GELID
23 Viet ___ (armed force of the 1960s-’70s) : CONG
24 Reeves of the “Matrix” films : KEANU
26 Thumbs-up on Facebook : LIKE
28 Gooey lunchbox sandwich, informally : PBJ
29 Language spoken in Vientiane : LAO
30 Schlepped : TOTED
31 Primitive dwelling : HUT
32 TV’s Dr. ___ : PHIL
33 San Pellegrino offering : LEMON SODA
34 “Rocks” that clink in a drink : ICE
35 ___ out a living : EKE
37 Rider’s handful : REINS
38 Assignment for a lawyer : CASE
42 Removes skin from : PARES
43 “The Grapes of Wrath” figure : OKIE
44 Mount Fuji’s locale : JAPAN
45 Amazon “assistant” : ALEXA
46 PC command to paste : CTRL-V
47 Ken who wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” : KESEY
48 Hot drink with marshmallows : COCOA
49 Word before space or limits : OUTER …
51 Coral islet chain : ATOLL
52 Coral reef producer : POLYP
55 “Highway to Hell” rock group … or a hint to electrical switches found in 16-, 23-, 36-, 44-, and 57-Across : AC/DC
57 Gorilla, e.g. : APE
58 Uno + uno : DOS

5 thoughts on “0109-23 NY Times Crossword 9 Jan 23, Monday”

  1. 7:01. I need Bill to get back. Without the writeup I don’t waste enough time doing early week puzzles. Now I have to go do something productive…

    Best –

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