1201-23 NY Times Crossword 1 Dec 23, Friday

Constructed by: Jem Burch
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 14m 58s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

8 Medieval lockup : GAOL

Both “jail” and “gaol” are pronounced the same way, mean the same thing, and are rooted in the same Latin word for “cave”. The spelling “gaol” is seen quite often in the UK, although it is gradually being replaced with “jail”. The “gaol” spelling has Norman roots and tends to be used in Britain in more formal documentation.

14 Big metal manufacturer : ALCOA

The Aluminum Corporation of America (ALCOA) is the largest producer of aluminum in the United States. The company was founded in 1888 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where its headquarters are to this day.

21 Chinese dynasty in which gunpowder was invented : TANG

The Tang dynasty of China lasted from 618 to 907 CE.

Gunpowder is the earliest-known explosive chemical. Also called “black powder”, it is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal and saltpeter (i.e. potassium nitrate). The saltpeter is a powerful oxidizing agent, providing the oxygen to burn the sulfur and charcoal, which acts as the fuel in the mixture. Gunpowder was invented by the Chinese in the 8th century.

26 Light-sensitive cells : RODS

The retina is the tissue that lines the inside of the eye, and is the tissue that is light-sensitive. There are (mainly) two types of cells in the retina that are sensitive to light, namely rods and cones. Rods are cells that best function in very dim light and only provide black-and-white vision. Cones on the other hand function in brighter light and can perceive color.

28 Lead-in to gender : CIS-

The term “cisgender” is used as the opposite of “transgender”. Cisgender people have a gender identity that matches the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender person is someone with a gender identity that is different from that assigned at birth.

30 Tower of London figure : YEOMAN

In one use of the word, a “yeoman” is a lower level official or attendant in a royal household. A famous group of yeomen are the Yeoman Warders of the Tower of London. The role is ceremonial these days, theoretically safeguarding the crown jewels and guarding any prisoners in the Tower. More correctly, the Yeoman Warders are called Beefeaters, and nobody’s really sure why! If you get over to London, the Yeoman Warders might be your tour guides around the Tower of London; it’s a great day out!

The spectacular Tower of London sits right on the north bank of the River Thames in the center of London. The castle dates back to the years just following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The victorious William the Conqueror built the Tower’s central keep (called the White Tower) in 1078. The Tower of London has been used for many purposes over the centuries, as a residence, a prison, and was even home to the Royal Mint. Famously it houses the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, and has done so since 1303.

34 Massive step forward, so to speak : QUANTUM LEAP

In the world of quantum theory, a quantum jump is the abrupt transition, of say an atom, from one quantum state to another. The concept was introduced by Niels Bohr, and the term “quantum jump” was coined around 1920. The use of “quantum leap” appears around 1930, in the same context of quantum theory. Today, “quantum jump” is used exclusively in the world of physics, whereas “quantum leap” is used figuratively to describe any abrupt change.

35 They’re inclined to help beginners : BUNNY SLOPES

In North America, ski runs are given a standardized rating in terms of skiing difficulty. The ratings are:

  • Green circles: easy to ski, often termed “bunny slopes”.
  • Blue squares: medium difficulty
  • Black diamond: steep and challenging terrain
  • Double black diamond: experts only (I’ve never braved one!)

37 “Long,” in Hawaiian : LOA

Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii is the largest volcano on the planet (in terms of volume). The name “Mauna Loa” is Hawaiian for “Long Mountain”.

47 Third of the peerage ranks : EARL

In the ranking of nobles, an earl comes above a viscount and below a marquis. The rank of earl is used in the British peerage system and is equivalent to the rank of count in other countries. Other British ranks have female forms (e.g. marquis and marchioness, viscount and viscountess), but there isn’t a female word for the rank of earl. A female given the same rank as an earl is known as a countess.

48 Youngest White House resident since John F. Kennedy Jr. : SASHA OBAMA

Sasha is the younger of the two Obama children, having been born in 2001. She was the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. moved in with his parents as a small infant. Sasha’s Secret Service codename is “Rosebud”, and her older sister Malia has the codename “Radiance”.

57 Some hydrating skin-care products : SERA

Skin serums are liquids designed to be absorbed quickly and to deliver high concentrations of compounds that can address common skin conditions. Most serum formulations are intended to have an anti-aging effect, and are said to be more effective than using moisturizers and/or sunscreen.

Down

2 Program started under Kennedy : APOLLO

The Apollo program is very much associated with President Kennedy, as he gave NASA the challenge to land men on the moon by the end of the sixties. However, the Apollo program was conceived during the Eisenhower administration as a follow-up to Project Mercury that put the first Americans in space.

3 Lose momentum : GO COLD

In physics, momentum is a property of a moving body that is calculated by multiplying the body’s mass by its velocity. Conceptually, it is a property that defines the length of time it would take to bring the moving body to rest by applying a constant force. The greater the mass and the greater the velocity, the harder it is to bring the body to rest, i.e. the greater is the body’s momentum.

4 Paul who sang with Sam Cooke and Neil Sedaka on the 1963 album “3 Great Guys” : ANKA

Canadian-born Paul Anka’s big hit was in 1957, the song entitled “Diana”. Another oft-heard Anka composition started out life as his 1959 composition “Toot Sweet”. He rearranged “Toot Sweet” and renamed it as “Johnny’s Theme”, the jazz instrumental played as the opening theme of “The Tonight Show Starry Johnny Carson”.

5 Roughly a quarter of Girl Scout cookie sales : THIN MINTS

Depending on which bakery makes the particular variety of Girl Scout cookies, the name can vary. For example, Little Brownie Bakers makes Samoa cookies, while ABC Bakers uses the same recipe and calls the cookies Caramel deLites. The assumption is that these cookies have the exotic name “Samoa” because they contain the tropical ingredients of coconut and cocoa. The most popular variety of Girl Scout cookies sold are Thin Mints.

7 ___ Heath, U.S. women’s soccer star : TOBIN

Tobin Heath is a professional soccer player who plays for the US national team. She has played club football on both sides of the Atlantic, turning out for the New York Fury, Paris Saint-Germain, the Portland Thorns, Manchester United and Arsenal.

13 Narrow landforms prevalent in Zion National Park : SLOT CANYONS

To me, the most spectacular feature of southwestern Utah’s Zion National Park is the magnificent Zion Canyon. The canyon cuts through red Navajo sandstone and truly is a beautiful sight.

15 California-based biotechnology giant : AMGEN

AMGen is a biotechnology company that was founded in 1980 as Applied Molecular Genetics. The company’s headquarters is in Thousand Oaks, California.

17 Windy City commuters’ inits. : CTA

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

It seems that the derivation of Chicago’s nickname “Windy City” isn’t as obvious as I would have thought. There are two viable theories. Firstly, that the weather can be breezy with wind blowing in off Lake Michigan. The effect of the wind is exaggerated by the grid-layout adopted by city planners after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The second theory is that “windy” means “being full of bluster”. Sportswriters from the rival city of Cincinnati were fond of calling Chicago supporters “windy” in the 1860s and 1870s, meaning that they were full of hot air in their claims that the Chicago White Stockings were superior to the Cincinnati Red Stockings.

32 City in the Red River delta : HANOI

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

34 Reality show whose cast appeared in the music video for Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” : QUEER EYE

“Queer Eye” is a reality TV show that was launched in 2003 as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. Each episode features a panel of gay professional experts in the fields of fashion and design giving a makeover to a straight man. The show was given a new life in 2018 when it was launched on Netflix as “Queer Eye” with a new “Fab Five” cast.

“You Need to Calm Down” is a 2019 song co-written and recorded by Taylor Swift. It is regarded by many as a gay anthem, and the lyrics express support for the LGBTQ+ community and address Internet trolls and homophones.

40 Like the Mocha coffee bean : YEMENI

Mocha is a port city in Yemen on the Red Sea and was once the principal port for the capital city of Sana’a. Mocha was the major marketplace in the world for coffee until the 1600s, and gave its name to the Mocha coffee bean, which in turn gave its name to the mocha brown color, and the flavor of coffee infused with chocolate.

43 First name in California politics : GAVIN

Gavin Newson is a former Mayor of San Francisco (2004-2011) who took over as the Governor of California in 2019. Newson is a member of the Democratic Party, and a very outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump. From 2001 to 2006, Newson was married to Kimberley Guilfoyle, a former attorney and fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. Guilfoyle is a very outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump.

45 College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa : COE

Coe College is a private school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that was founded in 1851. Coe is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. It was founded in 1851 as the School for Prophets. A farmer named Daniel Coe made a donation of $1,500 towards a campus in Cedar Rapid, but added the requirement that it be a co-educational institution. The school opened as the Cedar Rapids Collegiate Institute, and was renamed as Coe College Institute in 1875 in recognition of the original donation.

50 “Bubbles” in a drink : BOBA

Bubble tea, sometimes called “boba tea”, is a tea-based drink from Taiwan. The “bubbles” are chewy tapioca balls that are usually added to the drink.

52 New Deal-era org. : NRA

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was one of the first agencies set up under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program. On the one hand, the NRA helped set minimum wages and maximum working hours for workers in industry, and on the other hand it helped set minimum prices for goods produced by companies. The NRA was very popular with the public, and businesses that didn’t opt to participate in the program found themselves boycotted. The NRA didn’t survive for long though, as after two years of operation it was deemed to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court and so it ceased operations in 1935.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hardly a quick read : SAGA
5 Boom box contents? : TNT
8 Medieval lockup : GAOL
12 Well versed in : UPON
13 Fly “away!” : SHOO!
14 Big metal manufacturer : ALCOA
16 Engage in scrambling or bouldering : ROCK CLIMB
18 Coruscate : GLEAM
19 Experience euphoria : FLOAT ON AIR
21 Chinese dynasty in which gunpowder was invented : TANG
22 Shape of some desks : ELL
23 Green house? : ATM
24 Never : NOT ONCE
26 Light-sensitive cells : RODS
28 Lead-in to gender : CIS-
30 Tower of London figure : YEOMAN
31 Sarcastic expression of gratitude : THANKS A HEAP
34 Massive step forward, so to speak : QUANTUM LEAP
35 They’re inclined to help beginners : BUNNY SLOPES
36 Playground retort : ARE TOO!
37 “Long,” in Hawaiian : LOA
38 Shouts of joy : YAYS
42 Bringing in, as a sail : REEFING
44 Spa treatment, for short : TLC
46 Exemplary individual : GEM
47 Third of the peerage ranks : EARL
48 Youngest White House resident since John F. Kennedy Jr. : SASHA OBAMA
51 Didn’t go out, maybe : ATE IN
53 Feature of many a documentary : VOICE-OVER
54 Not as open : SHYER
55 “Gotcha” : I SEE
56 Inclination : BENT
57 Some hydrating skin-care products : SERA
58 Identifiers of a sort: Abbr. : NOS
59 Unchanged : AS IS

Down

1 One hoping to catch a break : SURFER
2 Program started under Kennedy : APOLLO
3 Lose momentum : GO COLD
4 Paul who sang with Sam Cooke and Neil Sedaka on the 1963 album “3 Great Guys” : ANKA
5 Roughly a quarter of Girl Scout cookie sales : THIN MINTS
6 Danish restaurant with “Best Restaurant in the World” accolades : NOMA
7 ___ Heath, U.S. women’s soccer star : TOBIN
8 Comedic bit : GAG
9 A real piece of cake : ALL TOO EASY
10 Flow chart? : OCEAN MAP
11 Upper bound at a bank : LOAN CAP
13 Narrow landforms prevalent in Zion National Park : SLOT CANYONS
15 California-based biotechnology giant : AMGEN
17 Windy City commuters’ inits. : CTA
20 Landmark in Madrid, Oslo or Brussels : ROYAL PALACE
25 [Snicker] : [TEHEE]
27 High roller? : STUNT FLIER
29 Where sockets are found : SKULL
32 City in the Red River delta : HANOI
33 Blended products : SMOOTHIES
34 Reality show whose cast appeared in the music video for Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” : QUEER EYE
35 They require inspiration : BREATHS
36 Disciplines : AREAS
39 Some nectar sources : AGAVES
40 Like the Mocha coffee bean : YEMENI
41 Really hurts : SMARTS
43 First name in California politics : GAVIN
45 College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa : COE
49 Decent : SO-SO
50 “Bubbles” in a drink : BOBA
52 New Deal-era org. : NRA

7 thoughts on “1201-23 NY Times Crossword 1 Dec 23, Friday”

  1. 23:26, no errors. After 5 minutes I had…almost nothing. Finally got a toe hold in the SE and worked up from there. Almost gave up a few times.

  2. 16:45. I liked the (non) theme. Upper right gave me the most fits.

    Never knew there was a Chinese dynasty named for an orange drink mix.

    I’m one of the few who never ordered THIN MINTS. I prefer the sugar cookies and/or the black and white oreo clones. I haven’t seen them for sale in a long time. I Googled the reason, and would you believe that because of supply chain issues late last year, most girl scout cookies are sold out this year. Wouldn’t that be considered a national emergency??

    Best –

  3. 24:29 I used to help unload the tractor trailers for the local Girl Scout troops…by hand, as we took cases off the trailer and loaded them into the leaders’ cars. Thin mints were by far the heaviest….

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