1203-23 NY Times Crossword 3 Dec 23, Sunday

Constructed by: Tracy Bennett
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: Freestyling

It doesn’t happen often, but today we have a themeless, Sunday crossword. And, the grid has lots of white squares, and relatively few black squares. Nice …

Bill’s time: 21m 49s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

21 Gold rush camp that became a state capital : HELENA, MONTANA

Helena is the capital of the state of Montana, and is known as the Queen City of the Rockies. Helena’s main street has a very colorful name, i.e. Last Chance Gulch.

22 Carrier out of Kuala Lumpur : AIRASIA

AirAsia is a low-cost airline based in Malaysia, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Reportedly, AirAsia has the lowest actual cost of operations of any airline in the world.

The capital city of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, which is often abbreviated to “KL”. The name “Kuala Lumpur” translates into English as “muddy estuary”. Famously, KL is home to the spectacular Petronas Twin Towers, which are currently the tallest twin towers in the world and was the tallest of any building from 1998 to 2004.

23 Hormone therapy product : ESTROGEN PATCH

The primary female sex hormone is estrogen (also “oestrogen”). The term “estrogen” comes from the Greek “oistros” meaning “verve, inspiration” and the suffix “-gen” meaning “producer of”.

24 They’re seen on the flags of Bhutan and Wales : DRAGONS

The official name of the Kingdom of Bhutan is “Druk Yul” in the Sino-Tibetan language of Dzongkha. “Druk yul” translates as “the Land of the Thunder Dragon”. The Kings of Bhutan are referred to as “Druk Gyalpo” meaning “Dragon King”, and citizens of Bhutan are known as “Drukpa” meaning “Dragon people”.

I’ve always thought the Welsh flag to be a magnificent design. At the center of the flag is a red dragon, which was the emblem of Cadwaladr. Cadwaladr was the king of much of what today is known as Wales, from 655 to 682.

26 Legal claim : LIEN

A lien is a right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

27 Retailer headquartered in Freeport, Me. : L.L.BEAN

L.L.Bean (note the lack of spaces in the company name) was founded back in 1912 in Freeport, Maine as a company selling its own line of waterproof boots. The founder, Leon Leonwood Bean, gave his name to the enterprise. Right from the start, L.L.Bean focused on mail-order and sold from a circular he distributed and then from a catalog. Defects in the initial design led to 90% of the first boots sold being returned, and the company made good on its guarantee to replace them or give back the money paid.

32 The Stepford wives in “The Stepford Wives,” it seems : ROBOTS

“The Stepford Wives” is a 1972 novel by Ira Levin about a Connecticut community in which the husbands replace their wives with docile robots. There have been two film adaptations of the book, the first released in 1975 and starring Katharine Ross (my favorite). The second movie adaptation, released in 2004, isn’t as good in my opinion, although Bette Midler plays a great supporting role.

35 Acronymic devices in atomic clocks and radio telescopes : MASERS

A MASER is a device that was around long before LASERs came into the public consciousness. A MASER (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is similar to a LASER, but microwaves are emitted rather than light waves. When the storyline for “Star Trek” was being developed, the writers introduced a weapon called a “phaser”, with the name “phaser” derived from PHoton mASER.

36 Part of a woodworking joint : TENON

One simple type of joint used in carpentry is a mortise and tenon. It is basically a projection carved at the end of one piece of wood that fits into a hole cut into the end of another. In the related dovetail joint, the projecting tenon is not rectangular but is cut at a bias, so that when the dovetails are joined they resist being pulled apart. You’ll see dovetail joints in drawers around the house.

37 ___ the Lucky Rabbit, character in early Disney shorts : OSWALD

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a character created by Walt Disney in the 1920s, and the first animated character to appear in their own series. Oswald made his first appearance in 1927, whereas Mickey Mouse first hit screens a year later. Oswald is now back in the limelight after showing up as a major character in a 2010 Disney video game called “Epic Mickey”.

41 “Media impressions,” “influencer marketing,” etc., informally : PR TALK

Public relations (PR)

44 Sore spots for kids? : MEASLES

Measles is a viral infection of the respiratory system. Apparently, there is no really effective treatment of measles, although there is some evidence that high doses of vitamin A can reduce the chances of mortality in the very young. Measles is also known as “rubeola”, not to be confused with “rubella”, which is an alternative name for German measles.

45 QB-protecting group : O-LINE

Offensive line (O-line)

47 San ___, capital founded in 1521 : JUAN

San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico. The city was founded in 1521 by the Spanish, who called it “Ciudad de Puerto Rico” (Rich Port City).

55 What nocturnal polysomnography may detect : SLEEP APNEA

Sleep apnea (“apnoea” in British English) can be caused by an obstruction in the airways, possibly due to obesity or enlarged tonsils.

60 Metric weight units : TONNES

The tonne, also known as a metric ton, is equivalent to 1,000 kg (or 2,205 lb). The tonne isn’t an official unit of mass in the metric system, but it is used a lot.

61 Actor Wilson of “The Office” : RAINN

Rainn Wilson is an actor best known for playing Dwight Schrute on the US version of the sitcom “The Office”.

62 Month that goes by fast? : RAMADAN

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is traditionally a period of fasting. The faithful who observe Ramadan refrain from eating, drinking and sexual relations from dawn to dusk everyday, a lesson in patience, humility and spirituality.

66 “Jeepers!” : CRIKEY!

“Crikey!” is an exclamation, and is probably a euphemism for “Christ”.

67 Stops over in France? : ARRETS

“Arrêt” is the French word for “stop”.

73 Peacock show? : TAIL

The female peafowl, the peahen, has very dull plumage compared to the extravagant display on the tail of the peacock.

76 Abandon without warning : JILT

To jilt someone with whom you have a relationship is to drop them suddenly or callously. “Jilt” is an obsolete noun that used to mean “harlot, loose woman”.

77 Figure in the Hindu trinity : SIVA

Shiva (also “Siva”) is one of the major deities of the Hindu tradition, and is known as the destroyer of evil and the transformer. Shiva is also part of the Hindu trinity known as the Trimurti, along with Brahma and Vishnu.

83 “The Handmaid’s Tale” airer : HULU

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a remarkably well-received television adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood. The story is set in a future United State after the Second American Civil War. The “Handmaids” are the few remaining fertile women in the world, who are ritually raped and forced to bear children by their masters.

84 First Nations group of the Great Lakes region : HURON

The Native Americans known as the Wyandot people are also called the Huron. The Wyandot people mainly inhabit a reservation in Quebec.

85 “Let’s Make a Deal” option : DOOR ONE

The game show “Let’s Make a Deal” first aired way back in 1963. For many years the show was hosted by Monty Hall, from 1963 until 1986, and again briefly in 1991. In more recent years, Wayne Brady took over as host in 2009.

Down

2 “Siddhartha” author : HESSE

The 1922 novel “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse focuses on the spiritual journey of a man called Siddhartha. Even though the Buddha’s name was Siddhartha Gautama before he renounced his former life, Hesse’s Siddhartha is a different character, but one who lived around the time of the Buddha.

4 Planet Earth : TERRA

The Greek goddess personifying the earth was Gaea (also “Gaia”, and meaning “land” or “earth” in Greek). The Roman equivalent goddess was Terra Mater, “Mother Earth”.

5 Actress Mireille ___ of TV’s “Hanna” and “Lucky Hank” : ENOS

Mireille Enos is an actress from Kansas City. She is perhaps best known for her TV work, playing Sarah Linden on “The Killing” and for playing twins Kathy and JoDean Marquart on “Big Love”. Enos is married to actor Alan Ruck, who I mainly remember playing Cameron Frye in the great movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.

10 Die-hard fan, in modern lingo : STAN

“Stan” is a song by rapper Eminem (featuring Dido) that was recorded in 2000. The title refers to a fictional Eminem fan named “Stan” who becomes obsessed with the rapper, and who grows irate when his letters to his idol go unanswered. Stan’s final act is to make a voice recording as he drives into a river, with his pregnant girlfriend locked in the trunk. One of the legacies of the song is that “stan” is now used as a slang term for an obsessed and maniacal fan.

11 Turner of American history : NAT

Nat Turner was a slave in Virginia who led a slave rebellion in 1831 that led to the deaths of over a hundred people. Half of the casualties were white,and half were black. The 55 white deaths took place on the day of the rebellion as a growing mob of slaves traveled from house-to-house freeing fellow slaves but also killing any white people they came across; men, women and children. The rebellion was suppressed within two days by a white militia. Slaves involved in the rebellion were tried for insurrection and related crimes, and a total of 56 blacks were executed on suspicion of involvement in the uprising. In the aftermath, life for slaves became even more difficult as any freedoms that they had earned were largely curtailed.

13 Mark who was the world’s highest-paid actor in 2017 : WAHLBERG

Marky Mark was frontman for the band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch in the nineties. We know Marky Mark these days as noted movie actor Mark Wahlberg, leading actor in the likes of “The Italian Job” and “Shooter”.

15 Turkish money : LIRAS

The currency of Turkey is the Turkish lira, which is divided into 100 kuruş. In 1927, the Turkish lira replaced the Ottoman lira, which had been in use since 1844.

16 Port city in Algeria : ORAN

Oran lies on the Algerian coast, and is famous for being the port where the French Navy was largely destroyed by the British during WWII in order to avoid the French vessels falling into the hands of Nazi Germany after France surrendered. This decisive and unexpected unilateral action by the British sent a very strong message around the world that Britain was willing to fight alone against the axis powers if necessary.

17 Badger : NAG

To badger is to harass. The verb “to badger” comes from the cruel practice of badger-baiting, which dates back to medieval times. Badger-baiting is a blood sport in which a dog is used as bait for a badger in its den, to draw it out into the open. The den is an artificial structure built to resemble a natural badgers’ den, complete with a tunnel entrance. The dog is sent down the tunnel causing the badger and dog to lock their jaws on each other. The badger and dog are then removed from the den by pulling on the dog’s tail. Horrible …

18 Having equal angles : ISOGONAL

An isogon is a polygon with equal angles in the corners. Examples are squares and equilateral triangles.

19 Like some golf courses : NINE-HOLE

There’s an urban myth that the standard number of holes on a golf course is 18 because it takes 18 shots to polish off a fifth of scotch whisky. However, the truth is that the standard number of holes in the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland happened to settle down over time at 18, and that standard was adopted all around the world.

31 Who said “Football is not about one or two or three star players” : PELE

“Pelé” was the nickname of Edson de Nascimento, a soccer player who used the name “Pelé” for most of his life. For my money, Pelé was the world’s greatest ever player of the game. He was the only person to have been a member of three World Cup winning squads (1958, 1962 and 1970), and was a national treasure in his native Brazil. One of Pele’s nicknames was “O Rei do Futebol” (the King of Football).

32 Rough fabric with a loose weave : RATINE

Ratiné is a loosely woven and rough fabric made with knotty yarns. Ratiné is also known as “sponge cloth”.

33 Investigators: Abbr. : DETS

Detective (det.)

34 Leave hurriedly, in quaint usage : TAKE A POWDER

The phrase “to take a powder” means “to scram, vanish”. This meaning was first recorded in the 1920s, and may derive from the medical instruction “take a powder”, which may imply having to make a quick exit!

35 Capital on the island of Luzon : MANILA

Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is the most densely populated city proper (discounting metro areas) in the whole world. Metro Manila includes the neighboring Quezon City, which is the most populous city in the country. Quezon City was founded in 1939 and replaced Manila as the nation’s capital in 1949. However, the decision to change the capital was reversed in 1976.

42 Use a divining rod : DOWSE

Dowsing is the practice of divining, not just for water but also for buried metals and gemstones. Often a dowser will use a Y-shaped or L-shaped rod as a tool, which can also be called a dowser. Here in the US, the tool used might be referred to as a “witching rod”, as it is usually made from witch-hazel.

43 Like some decals : IRON-ON

A decal is a decorative sticker. “Decal” is a shortening of “decalcomania”. The latter term is derived from the French “décalquer”, the practice of tracing a pattern from paper onto glass or perhaps porcelain.

44 Compulsory payments of old : MULCTS

“Mulct” is a term used primarily in civil law for a fine, a financial penalty imposed by a court.

47 Purchase at a sports stadium : JERSEY

We use the word “jersey” for a sports shirt worn by a particular team member, one that usually bears the player’s name and team number. Back in the mid-1800s, the term was used for a knitted shirt or close-fitting tunic. The item of clothing was named for Jersey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. The island was famous for its knitting trade during the Middle Ages.

49 Seasonal Russian cottages : DACHAS

Dachas are usually second homes in Russia and the former Soviet Union that are located outside the city limits in rural areas. Residents/tenants of dachas are often called “dachniks”.

50 Intruded, with “in” : HORNED …

To horn in is to intrude, to join in without invitation. The verb was coined around 1880 in American English, and was originally slang used by cowboys.

54 Utopias : EDENS

The word “Utopia” was coined by Sir Thomas More in his book “Utopia” published in 1516 to describe an idyllic fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. More’s use of the name Utopia comes from the Greek “ou” meaning “not” and “topos” meaning “place”. By calling his perfect island “Not Place”, More was apparently making the point that he didn’t think that the ideal could actually exist.

56 Played the rat : FINKED

A fink is an informer, someone who rats out his or her cohorts.

60 Period from 1945 to 1953 : TRUMAN ERA

Harry S. Truman became vice president under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January of 1945. He was in office for only 82 days when he was informed at the Whie House by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt that her husband had died in Warm Springs, Georgia. Truman was sworn in as US president, and served out the remainder of Roosevelt’s term without naming a replacement vice president. When Truman ran for president in his own right in 1948, he shared the ticket with Alben W. Barkley. Truman and Barkely won that election, and were in office until 1953.

63 Indian dish of potatoes and cauliflower : ALOO GOBI

Aloo gobi is a very tasty vegetarian dish in Indian cuisine made from potatoes and cauliflower, flavored with traditional Indian spices. “Aloo” translates to “potato” and “gobi” to “cauliflower”.

64 Putt-putt : MINIGOLF

The game of miniature golf emerged in the early 1900s. The name “putt-putt” is quite commonly used for the game today in the US. This name comes from the Putt-Putt Fun Center chain of courses that was founded in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1954. Putt-Putt courses are actually quite spartan compared to true miniature golf courses that are so often themed. Regardless, the names “putt-putt” and “miniature golf” have conflated over time.

66 “Carmina Burana” composer : CARL ORFF

“Carmina Burana” is a cantata by Carl Orff based on a collection of medieval poems that go by the same name. The name translates as “Songs from Beuern”. The best known movement of the cantata by far is the dramatic “O Fortuna” used at the opening and closing of the piece. One study placed “O Fortuna” as the most often played piece of classical music in the UK over the past 75 years, largely due to its use in television commercials. Famously, the piece appeared in the US in ads for Gatorade and Old Spice aftershave.

69 Units of RAM, for short : MEGS

Random-access memory (RAM) is a form of computer storage.

70 Character defamation : CALUMNY

A calumny is a false statement designed to sully someone’s or something’s reputation. Sadly, calumnies are pretty common around election time …

72 Family emblems : TOTEMS

“Totem” is a word used to describe any entity that watches over a group of people. As such, totems are usually the subjects of worship. Totem poles are really misnamed, as they are not intended to represent figures to be worshiped, but rather are heraldic in nature, and often celebrating the legends or notable events in the history of a tribe.

73 They’re found beside exclamation marks on keyboards : TILDES

The tilde diacritical mark (~) is very much associated with the Spanish language. We use the name “tilde” in English, taking that name from Spanish. Confusingly, the word “tilde” in Spanish is used more generally to mean “accent mark, diacritic”, of which a “~” is just one. What we call a “tilde” in English is usually referred to as a “virgulilla” or “tilde de la eñe” in Spanish.

75 Inkling : SENSE
83 Inkling : HINT

Our word “inkling” apparently comes from the Middle English word “inclen” meaning “to hint”.

76 Coup group : JUNTA

A junta is a group of military officers that rule a country, usually after having seized power forcibly. “Junta” is a Spanish word meaning “council”.

77 Sweet stuff in asparagus (if you read it backward)? : SUGAR

The last five letters of the word “asparagus”, when written backwards, spell out the word “sugar”.

80 Auntie ___ (pretzel chain) : ANNE’S

Auntie Anne’s is a chain of pretzel bakeries that was founded in 1988. The chain started out as a simple stand in a farmer’s market in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. There are now almost 900 outlets in about a dozen countries.

84 Largest of the lagomorphs : HARE

Rabbits and hares belong to the taxonomic order Lagomorpha, and specifically in the family Leporidae.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Sarcastic response to an unsurprising development : WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
14 That makes two of us! : CLONING
21 Gold rush camp that became a state capital : HELENA, MONTANA
22 Carrier out of Kuala Lumpur : AIRASIA
23 Hormone therapy product : ESTROGEN PATCH
24 They’re seen on the flags of Bhutan and Wales : DRAGONS
25 Alexanders I-III : TSARS
26 Legal claim : LIEN
27 Retailer headquartered in Freeport, Me. : L.L.BEAN
29 “___ Up Offa That Thing” (1976 hit) : GET
30 “Will be,” in Spanish : SERA
31 Map out : PLAN
32 The Stepford wives in “The Stepford Wives,” it seems : ROBOTS
33 Host city of the 2022 FIFA World Cup : DOHA
34 ___ Vogue : TEEN
35 Acronymic devices in atomic clocks and radio telescopes : MASERS
36 Part of a woodworking joint : TENON
37 ___ the Lucky Rabbit, character in early Disney shorts : OSWALD
40 Much sketch comedy : SATIRE
41 “Media impressions,” “influencer marketing,” etc., informally : PR TALK
42 Emulate : DO LIKE
43 Diamond division : INNING
44 Sore spots for kids? : MEASLES
45 QB-protecting group : O-LINE
46 Difficult : TRYING
47 San ___, capital founded in 1521 : JUAN
48 Super-sillyous? : WACKADOODLE
50 Apocalyptic scene : HELLSCAPE
55 What nocturnal polysomnography may detect : SLEEP APNEA
56 Mainstay of a sci-fi defense system : FORCE FIELD
57 Canal inspector : EAR DOCTOR
58 Most serious, in law : FIRST DEGREE
59 It’s a question of timing : WHEN?
60 Metric weight units : TONNES
61 Actor Wilson of “The Office” : RAINN
62 Month that goes by fast? : RAMADAN
66 “Jeepers!” : CRIKEY!
67 Stops over in France? : ARRETS
68 Billionaires and such : ELITES
69 Badly injured : MAULED
70 Elegant and refined : CLASSY
71 See 81-Across : DONOR
72 Given the name : TERMED
73 Peacock show? : TAIL
74 What a token may resemble : COIN
75 Pleased as punch : SO GLAD
76 Abandon without warning : JILT
77 Figure in the Hindu trinity : SIVA
81 With 71-Across, participant in some fertility treatments : EGG …
82 Picks to win : BETS ON
83 “The Handmaid’s Tale” airer : HULU
84 First Nations group of the Great Lakes region : HURON
85 “Let’s Make a Deal” option : DOOR ONE
87 Prompt from the chronically forgetful : REMIND ME AGAIN
90 Accessibility concern : ABLEISM
91 Walk in place? : FRONT ENTRANCE
92 Leafs : RIFFLES
93 Set of books with maps, perhaps : FANTASY SERIES

Down

1 Stimulates : WHETS
2 “Siddhartha” author : HESSE
3 Where sacrifices may be made : ALTAR
4 Planet Earth : TERRA
5 Actress Mireille ___ of TV’s “Hanna” and “Lucky Hank” : ENOS
6 Trail behind : LAG
7 Made scents? : SMELLED
8 Lasting for an immeasurable time span : EONIAN
9 How legal papers may be signed : IN PEN
10 Die-hard fan, in modern lingo : STAN
11 Turner of American history : NAT
12 Wrapped around : ENCLOSING
13 Mark who was the world’s highest-paid actor in 2017 : WAHLBERG
14 Military trainees : CADETS
15 Turkish money : LIRAS
16 Port city in Algeria : ORAN
17 Badger : NAG
18 Having equal angles : ISOGONAL
19 Like some golf courses : NINE-HOLE
20 They may need fillings : GAS TANKS
28 Snooze : BORE
31 Who said “Football is not about one or two or three star players” : PELE
32 Rough fabric with a loose weave : RATINE
33 Investigators: Abbr. : DETS
34 Leave hurriedly, in quaint usage : TAKE A POWDER
35 Capital on the island of Luzon : MANILA
36 Passage from one party to another : TRANSFERRAL
37 “Va-va-voom!” : OO-LA-LA!
38 It cuts the cheese (but not the mustard) : SLICER
39 Got some shut-eye? : WINKED
40 Pulitzer-winning poet Gary : SNYDER
41 Rang, as a bell : PEALED
42 Use a divining rod : DOWSE
43 Like some decals : IRON-ON
44 Compulsory payments of old : MULCTS
46 List of ranked favorites : TOP TEN
47 Purchase at a sports stadium : JERSEY
49 Seasonal Russian cottages : DACHAS
50 Intruded, with “in” : HORNED
51 Items usually sold in boxes of 25 : CIGARS
52 Mountaintop homes : AERIES
53 Enough to go around : PLENTY
54 Utopias : EDENS
56 Played the rat : FINKED
58 Outschemed, in a way : FOILED
60 Period from 1945 to 1953 : TRUMAN ERA
62 Evergreen tree with fragrant bark : RED CEDAR
63 Indian dish of potatoes and cauliflower : ALOO GOBI
64 Putt-putt : MINIGOLF
65 Loads : A TON
66 “Carmina Burana” composer : CARL ORFF
67 Landed : ALIT
69 Units of RAM, for short : MEGS
70 Character defamation : CALUMNY
72 Family emblems : TOTEMS
73 They’re found beside exclamation marks on keyboards : TILDES
75 Inkling : SENSE
76 Coup group : JUNTA
77 Sweet stuff in asparagus (if you read it backward)? : SUGAR
78 Many a Shiite : IRANI
79 It may be raised in an argument : VOICE
80 Auntie ___ (pretzel chain) : ANNE’S
82 Pasta recipe instruction : BOIL
83 Inkling : HINT
84 Largest of the lagomorphs : HARE
86 Flag thrower, informally : REF
88 Time to get back to work: Abbr. : MON
89 Otherworldly sorts, for short : ETS

7 thoughts on “1203-23 NY Times Crossword 3 Dec 23, Sunday”

  1. 1:26:32 Far too much enjoyment…likely payback for what has been a good solving week for me

    “Calumny”, “Aloo Gobi” new to me, which contributed to my enjoyment…

  2. Yet again, I relearn the term “mulct” – I think my brain has just refused to accept it as an actual word, most likely based on aesthetic considerations. An ugly word for an unpleasant situation. Calumny is a close second. Dug them both out, eventually, but not without breaking a sweat.

  3. Wow, what a workout.. it wasn’t as much that I didn’t know but that there options and until you try one (or two) , you aren’t sure which one will work….

    Several didn’t know… but crosses were the only help.

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