1209-23 NY Times Crossword 9 Dec 23, Saturday

Constructed by: Doug Peterson & Christina Iverson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 15m 40s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • SCITTER (skitter)
  • KOWTOWING (cowtowing)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

15 Geographical inspiration for Strauss : BLUE DANUBE

Of the many classical composers with the Strauss name, “The Waltz King” was Johann Strauss II from Austria. Among the many beautiful waltzes that Strauss penned are “The Blue Danube” and “Tales from the Vienna Woods”. He also composed the famous operetta “Die Fledermaus”.

18 Tab, essentially : DEBT

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.

19 Safaris, e.g. : TREKS

“Safari” is a Swahili word meaning “journey” or “expedition”.

20 Fish also known as wahoo : ONO

A wahoo is a cousin of a mackerel, and is known as an “ono” in Hawaii.

23 Border region along the Rhine : ALSACE

Of the 27 regions of metropolitan France (i.e. the territory of France within Europe), the smallest is Alsace. Alsace sits at the very east of the country, right on the border with Germany. The political status of Alsace was disputed by France and Germany for over three centuries, and was formally handed over to French control after Germany’s defeat in WWII.

The river running through Europe that we know in English as the Rhine, is called “Rhein” in German, “Rhin” in French and “Rijn” in Dutch.

25 ___ Championship : PGA

The four major golf competitions in men’s golf are:

  • the Masters Tournament
  • the US Open
  • the Open Championship (aka “the British Open”)
  • the PGA Championship

33 Founder of the Shondaland production company : RHIMES

Shonda Rhimes is the creator and head writer of the TV shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”. She also serves as executive producer for the crime shows “How to Get Away with Murder” and “The Catch”. Rhimes also runs her own production company called Shondaland.

34 Defiant declaration popularized by the drag queen Bianca Del Rio : NOT TODAY, SATAN

“Bianca Del Rio” is the stage name of drag queen and comedian Roy Haylock. Del Rio won the sixth season of the reality competition “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.

38 “Goddess of the loud hunt,” in Homer’s “Iliad” : ARTEMIS

Artemis was an ancient Greek goddess, and the equivalent of the Roman goddess Diana. She was also a daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, and so often is depicted carrying a bow and arrows.

40 Safari destinations : URLS

Safari is Apple’s flagship Internet browser, one that is used on its Mac line of computers. A mobile version of Safari is included with all iPhones.

41 M.M.A. decision : TKO

Technical knockout (TKO)

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact combat sport in which competitors use a variety of techniques from a variety of traditional combat sports and martial arts.

42 Pulitzer category : POETRY

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition. The prize was established back in 1917 by the Hungarian-American newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Pulitzer left money in his will for the prize, and for its administration by Columbia University.

44 Part of U.C.S.F.: Abbr. : CAL

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

47 Northern lapwing : PEWIT

“Pewit” (also “Peewit”) is an alternative name for the Northern Lapwing. The name “Peewit” is imitative of the bird’s “pee-wit” call.

50 Break down, in a way : PARSE

The verb “to parse” means “to state the parts of speech in a sentence”. “Parse” comes from the Latin word “pars” meaning “part”.

52 Swedish actress Lena : OLIN

Lena Olin is a Swedish actress, and someone who has acting in her blood. Her mother was the actress Britta Holmberg and her father the actor and director Stig Olin. Olin had a very successful career in Sweden, often working with the great Ingmar Bergman. Olin’s breakthrough international and English-speaking role was playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” released in 1988. Way back in 1974, Miss Olin was crowned Miss Scandinavia in a beauty pageant for Nordic women held in Helsinki, Finland. Olin’s most famous performance was in “Chocolat” released in 2000, and then she won an Emmy in 2003 for Best Supporting Actress in the TV show “Alias”.

53 Chance to start fresh : TABULA RASA

Tabula rasa (plural “tabulae rasae”) is the idea that people are born with a “blank, clean slate”, and that knowledge comes from experience and perception. “Tabula rasa” translates literally from Latin as “scraped tablet”.

Down

2 “The Nutcracker” role : CLARA

Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” is one of the most popular ballets in the repertoire. It premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892, but its public appeal really only emerged in the late 1960s. It’s a “must-see ballet” during the Christmas holidays.

6 Amy who wrote “The Kitchen God’s Wife” : TAN

“The Kitchen God’s Wife” is a 1991 novel by Amy Tan. It was Tan’s second book, and followed the remarkable success of her 1989 story “The Joy Luck Club”.

10 The Eagle, e.g., for short : LEM

We always seem to remember the phrase “The Eagle has landed”, historic words spoken by Neil Armstrong when he put down Apollo 11’s Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) on the surface of the moon. Looking back I have to say that the words preceding “The Eagle has landed” seem to have even more impact. During the descent to the moon’s surface Armstrong used the call sign “Eagle”, indicating that he was communicating from the LEM. After he killed the engines on touching down, Armstrong’s first words home to Earth were “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” That switch of call sign from “Eagle” to “Tranquility Base” always sends shivers down my spine …

11 First Nigerian-born singer to win a Grammy : SADE

Singer Sade’s real name is Helen Folasade Adu. Although born in Nigeria, Sade grew up and lives in the UK. She was the lead vocalist for the English group Sade, and adopted the name of the band. The band’s biggest hits were “Smooth Operator” (1984) and “The Sweetest Taboo” (1985).

12 Epithet for Tarzan : THE APEMAN

In the stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes was actually Englishman John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke.

26 What might be heard before a bust : HIT ME

The card game known as “twenty-one” was first referred to in print in a book by Cervantes, the author famous for writing “Don Quixote”. He called the game “veintiuna” (Spanish for “twenty-one”). Cervantes wrote his story just after the year 1600, so the game has been around at least since then. Twenty-one came to the US but it wasn’t all that popular so bonus payments were introduced to create more interest. One of the more attractive bonuses was a ten-to-one payout to a player who was dealt an ace of spades and a black jack. This bonus led to the game adopting the moniker “Blackjack”.

30 Did some shallow breathing? : SNORKELED

Our word “snorkel” comes from German navy slang “Schnorchel” meaning “nose, snout”. The German slang was applied to an air-shaft used for submarines, due to its resemblance to a nose, in that air passed through it and it made a “snoring” sound. “Schnorchel” comes from “Schnarchen”, the German for “snore”.

31 Bootlicker’s specialty : KOWTOWING

To kowtow is to show servile deference. “Kowtow” comes from the Chinese “k’o-t’ou” which is the name for the custom of kneeling and touching the forehead to the ground in a gesture of respect. The Chinese term literally translates as “knock the head”.

36 Pillar of the superhero community : BATPOLE

Wayne Manor is the home of Bruce Wayne, the alter-ego of Batman. It is a huge manor that lies just outside Gotham City. Looking after the house is the Wayne family servant, Alfred. Beneath the grounds of the manor is an extensive cave system where Bruce Wayne put together his Batcave. Access to the cave is via a staircase behind a hidden door. The door is opened by moving the hands of a non-functioning grandfather clock to 10:47, the time at which Wayne’s parents were murdered. It is the murder of his parents that sets Bruce off on his journey of crime fighting.

39 Heavenly being : SERAPH

A seraph is a celestial being found in Hebrew and Christian writings. The word “seraph” (plural “seraphim”) literally translates as “burning one”. Seraphs are the highest-ranking angels in the Christian tradition, and the fifth-ranking of ten in the Jewish tradition.

43 Maguire of 2009’s “Brothers” : TOBEY

Actor Tobey Maguire is most associated with the role of Spider-Man these days. I’m not much into comic book hero films, but I do kind of enjoy the understated way that Maguire takes on “Spidey”. Maguire has appeared in other hit films, like “Pleasantville” (1998), “The Cider House Rules” (1999) and “Seabiscuit” (2003). Off the screen, he is big into poker and it’s said that he has won over $10 million playing poker in Hollywood. Apparently, the rather unsavory character “Player X” in the 2017 movie “Molly Bloom” was largely inspired by Maguire.

44 Idaho senator Mike : CRAPO

Mike Crapo was first elected US Senator for Idaho in 1998, after having served in the US House of Representatives for six years. He is a member of the Republican Party.

48 Fictional Dr. Jones, familiarly : INDY

The title character in the “Indiana Jones” series of movies was born Henry Jones, Junior in Princeton, New Jersey. He adopted the nickname “Indiana” because that was the name of his dog when he was growing up. George Lucas, who created the character, used to have an Alaskan malamute dog named Indiana.

54 People with a language of the same name : LAO

Lao, the language of Laos, does not use spaces between words (or periods!), although this is apparently changing. Spaces are used between sentences and clauses.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 “Try not to attract attention” : ACT NATURAL
11 This and that : STEW
15 Geographical inspiration for Strauss : BLUE DANUBE
16 “Alas!'” : AH ME!
17 “100% correct!” : CAN CONFIRM!
18 Tab, essentially : DEBT
19 Safaris, e.g. : TREKS
20 Fish also known as wahoo : ONO
21 Play again : RE-AIR
22 Not std. : VAR
23 Border region along the Rhine : ALSACE
25 ___ Championship : PGA
26 Bit of assistance : HAND
28 Shell-inspired shade of greenish blue : DUCK EGG
30 Run like a mouse : SKITTER
33 Founder of the Shondaland production company : RHIMES
34 Defiant declaration popularized by the drag queen Bianca Del Rio : NOT TODAY, SATAN
36 Most of the English force at Agincourt : BOWMEN
37 Itchy layers : WOOLENS
38 “Goddess of the loud hunt,” in Homer’s “Iliad” : ARTEMIS
40 Safari destinations : URLS
41 M.M.A. decision : TKO
42 Pulitzer category : POETRY
44 Part of U.C.S.F.: Abbr. : CAL
47 Northern lapwing : PEWIT
49 Break down, in a way : ROT
50 Break down, in a way : PARSE
52 Swedish actress Lena : OLIN
53 Chance to start fresh : TABULA RASA
55 Make advances : LEND
56 19th-century garb completed by top hats and gloves : OPERA CAPES
57 Tense : EDGY
58 “Let’s have our cake and eat it, too!” : WHY NOT BOTH?!

Down

1 Disney channel : ABC TV
2 “The Nutcracker” role : CLARA
3 One pulling some strings : TUNER
4 Long part of a bouzouki : NECK
5 Big deals : ADOS
6 Amy who wrote “The Kitchen God’s Wife” : TAN
7 Played out : UNFOLDED
8 Dig locale : RUINS
9 Not here : ABROAD
10 The Eagle, e.g., for short : LEM
11 First Nigerian-born singer to win a Grammy : SADE
12 Epithet for Tarzan : THE APEMAN
13 Causes to grow, humorously : EMBIGGENS
14 Car-washing equipment : WET RAGS
21 Locale for Ping-Pong, foosball, dancing, etc. : REC HALL
23 U.N. secretary general Guterres : ANTONIO
24 Quick : CURSORY
26 What might be heard before a bust : HIT ME
27 Stab : ATTEMPT
29 Toys with strings : KITES
30 Did some shallow breathing? : SNORKELED
31 Bootlicker’s specialty : KOWTOWING
32 Word with data or deal : RAW …
35 Words to end a play : YOUR TURN
36 Pillar of the superhero community : BATPOLE
39 Heavenly being : SERAPH
43 Maguire of 2009’s “Brothers” : TOBEY
44 Idaho senator Mike : CRAPO
45 It’s a good thing : ASSET
46 Spot check? : LEASH
48 Fictional Dr. Jones, familiarly : INDY
50 Big deal : PACT
51 Many a North African : ARAB
53 Use a hitch on : TOW
54 People with a language of the same name : LAO

11 thoughts on “1209-23 NY Times Crossword 9 Dec 23, Saturday”

  1. 28:22, no errors. I spent lots of time in the upper right, mostly because of “DUCK EGG” and “EMBIGGENS” (both of which I finally got, but not without an inordinate level of angst … 😳). Good puzzle (with emphasis on the word puzzle … 😜).

  2. DNF. In fact almost DNS (did not start). Couldn’t get a foothold anywhere. Even with looking up a few long answers, still couldn’t get it.

  3. 37:37, no errors. I, also, struggled with the NE corner. ‘THE APE MAN’ rather than just ape man was difficult to recognize. ‘Shell inspired’ made me think of some type of aquatic animal shell. EMBIGGENS just seems like a made-up word, so the setter can finish the grid. Fortunately, did know SADE and incorrectly thought Leanne RIMES was the 33A answer.

  4. Shonda Rhimes | Shondaland (television production company)
    LeAnn Rimes | singer, songwriter and actress
    Both talented ladies are SERIOUS over-achievers!

  5. DNF “embiggens”, “tabularusa”, a bunch more that just didn’t surface for me…but hey, at least I spelled “kowtowing” right :- )

  6. 56:06. , same two errors as Bill which if Bill missed ’em too I consider that as bragging rights for me; not to overdo the mandatory cowtowing (sic) to the blog moderator but hey, Bill is da man.

Leave a Reply

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