1214-23 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 23, Thursday

Constructed by: Esha Datta
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: You’re on Mute!

Themed answers require us to “MUTE” the ends, which are synonyms of “say”:

  • 35A Oft-used phrase during Zoom meetings … or the reason for the misunderstandings at 17-, 26-, 50- and 60-Across? : YOU’RE ON MUTE!
  • 17A Chili ingredients : BEANS (BEANSTALK – TALK)
  • 26A Three wise men : MAGI (MAGIC HAT – CHAT)
  • 50A Note after la : TI (TIRE MARK – REMARK)
  • 60A Predatory freshwater fish : PIKE (PIKES PEAK – SPEAK)

Bill’s time: 10m 58s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 South Asian : DESI

People from the Indian subcontinent might refer to themselves as “desi”.

14 Prefix with science : OMNI-

Omniscience is the quality of having complete knowledge and awareness. The term comes from the Latin “omnis” meaning “all” and “scientia” meaning “knowledge”.

15 The ugly duckling’s mother : SWAN

Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Ugly Duckling” has to be one of the most endearing ever written. Unlike so many fairy tales, “The Ugly Duckling” isn’t based on any folklore and is simply a product of Andersen’s imagination. It is speculated that Andersen was the illegitimate son of the Crown Prince of Denmark, and that he wrote the story of the ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful swan as a metaphor for the secret royal lineage that was within Andersen himself.

16 Site of a W.W. I battle that saved Paris from capture : MARNE

The River Marne runs roughly northwestward for over 300 miles, running into the River Seine just outside Paris. The Marne was the site of two major battles in WWI, one fought in 1914, and one in 1918.

17 Chili ingredients : BEANS (BEANSTALK – TALK)

The full name of the dish that is often called simply “chili” is “chili con carne”, Spanish for “peppers with meat”. The dish was created by immigrants from the Spanish Canary Islands in the city of San Antonio, Texas (a city which the islanders founded). The San Antonio Chili Stand was a popular attraction at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and that stand introduced the dish to the rest of America and to the world.

20 Drink with foam : LATTE

The term “latte” is an abbreviation of the Italian “caffelatte” meaning “coffee (and) milk”. Note that in the correct spelling of “latte”, the Italian word for milk; there is no accent over the “e”. An accent is often added by mistake when we use the word in English, perhaps meaning to suggest that the word is French.

21 Only country with a nonrectangular flag : NEPAL

The flag of Nepal is the only national flag in the world in the shape of two pennants (two triangles, one atop the other).

23 Greek letter used to represent magnetic flux : PHI

In the world of physics, the weber is the unit of magnetic flux. The unit is named for the German physicist Wilhelm Eduard Weber who was the co-inventor of the electromagnetic telegraph.

24 Painting by van Gogh during his time in an asylum : IRISES

Van Gogh painted his “Irises” while he was in an asylum in the south of France the year before he committed suicide. The original owner was a French art critic and supporter of van Gogh who paid 300 francs to purchase the painting. “Irises” was bought for $53.9 million in 1987, making it the most expensive painting sold up to that point. But, the buyer didn’t actually have the necessary funds, so it had to be resold in 1990. It was picked up by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where you can see it today.

26 Three wise men : MAGI (MAGIC HAT – CHAT)

“Magi” is the plural of the Latin word “magus”, a term applied to someone who was able to read the stars. Hence, “magi” is commonly used with reference to the “wise men from the East” who followed the star and visited Jesus soon after he was born. In Western Christianity, the three Biblical Magi are:

  • Melchior: a scholar from Persia
  • Caspar (also “Gaspar”): a scholar from India
  • Balthazar: a scholar from Arabia

28 Part of a newborn’s schedule : NAP

And my schedule, and I’m no newborn …

34 “A Man Called ___” (Tom Hanks film) : OTTO

“A Man Called Otto” is a marvelous 2022 comedy-drama movie starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy old man who gets dragged, reluctantly, into the lives of his neighbors. It is a remake of the 2015 Swedish film “A Man Called Ove”, which in turn is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same name by Fredrik Backman. In flashbacks, young Otto is played by Truman Hanks, one of Tom Hanks’ sons.

41 “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” : SOAPS

The original soap operas were radio dramas back in the fifties. Given the structure of society back then, the daytime broadcasts were aimed at women working in the home as housewives. For some reason the sponsors of those radio shows, and the television shows that followed, were soap manufacturers like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers. And that’s how the “soap” opera got its name …

“The Young and the Restless” is a soap opera that has been on the air since 1973. It is a sister show to the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful”, and so the two series share some actors and characters.

46 “The Marvelous ___ Maisel” : MRS

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is a comedy drama TV show set in the late fifties and early sixties. The title character, played by Rachel Brosnahan, is a New York housewife who opts for a career as a standup comedian.

47 Health legislation of 2010, in brief : ACA

The correct name for what has been dubbed “Obamacare” is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (ACA).

50 Note after la : TI (TIRE MARK – REMARK)

The sol-fa syllables are: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la & ti.

57 Indian tonal drum : TABLA

A tabla is a percussion instrument used mainly in the Indian subcontinent. The tabla consists of a pair of hand drums and is similar to bongos.

58 Battery terminal : ANODE

A battery is a device that converts chemical energy into electric energy. A simple battery is made up of three parts: a cathode, an anode and a liquid electrolyte. Ions from the electrolyte react chemically with the material in the anode producing a compound and releasing electrons. At the same time, the electrolyte reacts with the material in the cathode, absorbing electrons and producing a different chemical compound. In this way, there is a buildup of electrons at the anode and a deficit of electrons at the cathode. When a connection (wire, say) is made between the cathode and anode, electrons flow through the resulting circuit from the anode to cathode in an attempt to rectify the electron imbalance.

60 Predatory freshwater fish : PIKE (PIKES PEAK – SPEAK)

Zebulon Pike was an American Army officer and explorer. On his first expedition for the military he discovered a mountain in the Rockies that had been dubbed El Capitan by Spanish settlers. It was later renamed to Pike’s Peaks (now “Pikes Peak”) in honor of the explorer.

63 Hydrox competitor : OREO

The Oreo cookie was introduced in 1912. The Oreo was intended to be a competitor to the very similar Hydrox cookie which had debuted four years earlier. The Oreo won the resulting battle on the grocery store shelves …

65 Carvings named for the first man in Maori mythology : TIKIS

A tiki is a large carving of wood or stone resembling a human form that is found in Polynesian cultures. The carvings often mark out boundaries surrounding sites that are sacred to the locals.

Down

2 Pro golfer Mark : O’MEARA

Mark O’Meara is a golfer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. He is known as one of the American players who competes in international tournaments more than most, and has a reputation as a real gentleman all around the world.

5 “Spring forward” hrs. : DST

On the other side of the Atlantic, daylight saving time (DST) is known as “summer time”. The idea behind summer/daylight-savings is to move clocks forward an hour in spring (“spring forward”), and backwards in the fall (“fall back”) so that afternoons have more daylight. Here in the US, DST starts on the second Sunday of March, and ends on the first Sunday of November.

6 Brother of Logan Roy on “Succession” : EWAN

“Succession” is a very popular dark comedy-drama series that premiered in 2018. It’s about a family-owned, global media company. The “succession” in question is who will get to run the empire after the passing of the ailing family patriarch. The marvelous Scottish actor Brian Cox plays the head of the company Logan Roy. Great stuff, albeit quite depressing and terrifying …

7 Setting of “The Crucible” : SALEM

“The Crucible” is a 1952 play by Arthur Miller that tells the story of the Salem witch trials. Miller wrote it as an allegory for the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings that were being chaired by Senator Joe McCarthy around that time. Miller was called before the Committee himself, and was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to “name names”.

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings held in 1692 and 1693 in colonial Massachusetts, most famously in Salem. As a result of mass hysteria, twenty people were convicted of practicing witchcraft and were executed. The events were deemed to be a terrible injustice almost immediately. As early as 1696, there was a legal ruling by the Massachusetts General Court that referred to the outcome of the trials as a tragedy. In 2001, the Massachusetts legislature officially exonerated all of those convicted.

9 Aviator Earhart : AMELIA

Amelia Earhart is as famous today as she was during her lifetime. When she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Congress, and the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor by the French government. She made two attempts to circumnavigate the globe by air (not solo). Her first attempt in March 1937 had to be abandoned when her aircraft was damaged during takeoff. The second attempt in June/July of the same year ended when Earhart and her navigator disappeared flying from Lae, New Guinea to Howland Island in the Central Pacific.

11 The lead in pencils, actually : GRAPHITE

The chemical element carbon has the symbol C and atomic number 6. Pure carbon exists in several physical forms, including graphite and diamond.

13 First Disney song to reach the top 5 on Billboard in the 21st century : LET IT GO

“Let It Go” is an incredibly successful song from the Disney animated film “Frozen” released in 2013. It was performed in the movie by Idina Menzel, who also was the voice actor for the character Elsa. “Let It Go” is one of the very few Disney songs to make it into the Billboard Top Ten.

30 Ending with Power : -ADE

Powerade is one of those sports drinks, and is the only real competitor to Gatorade.

32 Peter who was the first actor to play a Bond villain : LORRE

Peter lorre was the first actor to play a James Bond villain, doing so in a 1954 TV adaptation of the Ian Fleming novel “Casino Royale”. Bond was played by American actor Barry Nelson, Lorre played Le Chiffre.

The marvelous actor Peter Lorre was born in what is now modern-day Slovakia. Lorre’s real name was Laszlo Lowenstein. He started acting in Vienna when he was quite young, only 17 years old. When Hitler came to power, the Jewish Lowenstein headed to Paris and then London, eventually ending up in Hollywood. Lorre found himself typecast as the wicked foreigner in American movies, but I think he sneered and snarled his way to the bank.

33 A call for help : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots). That said, in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so “SOS” is really only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are back-formations that were introduced after the SOS signal was adopted.

36 ___ de plume : NOM

“Nom de plume” translates from French simply as “pen name”.

37 Notable lamb owner : MARY

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” is a nursery rhyme that originated in the US, first published in Boston in 1830. The rhyme was written by Sarah Josepha Hale, and was based on a real-life Mary who had a pet lamb that followed her around. “Mary Had a Little Lamb” has the distinction of being the first words recorded by Thomas Edison on his phonograph invention in 1877.

40 Wine from Tuscany : CHIANTI

Chianti is a red wine from the Chianti region of central Tuscany in Italy. Historically, Chianti was stored in a characteristically bulbous bottle wrapped in a straw basket. However, the pragmatists have won the day and regular wine bottles tend to be used nowadays.

Tuscany is a beautiful region in central Italy, the capital of which is the city of Florence. Tuscany is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, which was centered around Florence. It was home to great artistic icons such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo and Puccini.

44 Necessity for some Venetian transport : OAR

The city of Venice (“Venezia” in Italian) in northeast Italy is built in a saltwater lagoon on the Adriatic Coast, on 117 small islands. The classic transportation along the waterways is the gondola, but this is really only used for tourists these days, as well as on ceremonial occasions. The locals rely on motorized water-buses.

47 Even though : ALBEIT

“Albeit” is a conjunction meaning “although, even if”. The term dates back to the 1300s, when it was a contraction of the phrase “al be it” meaning “although it be that”.

48 Rum cocktail : COLADA

“Piña colada” is a Spanish term that translates into “strained pineapple”. The piña colada cocktail was introduced in the Caribe Hilton San Juan in 1954, and since 1978 it has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico. The mocktail version of the drink is known as a nada colada.

51 Actress Knightley : KEIRA

English actress Keira Knightley had her big break in the movies when she co-starred in 2002’s “Bend It Like Beckham”. Knightley played one of my favorite movie roles, Elizabeth Bennett in 2005’s “Pride and Prejudice”. Knightley won a Golden Globe for that performance, although that 2005 film isn’t the best adaptation of Austen’s novel in my humble opinion …

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Semiliquid stuff : GOOP
5 South Asian : DESI
9 Darling : ANGEL
14 Prefix with science : OMNI-
15 The ugly duckling’s mother : SWAN
16 Site of a W.W. I battle that saved Paris from capture : MARNE
17 Chili ingredients : BEANS (BEANSTALK – TALK)
19 Pass : ENACT
20 Drink with foam : LATTE
21 Only country with a nonrectangular flag : NEPAL
23 Greek letter used to represent magnetic flux : PHI
24 Painting by van Gogh during his time in an asylum : IRISES
26 Three wise men : MAGI (MAGIC HAT – CHAT)
28 Part of a newborn’s schedule : NAP
29 Affirmative vote : YEA
31 Giving a hand? : DEALING
32 A lot : LOADS
34 “A Man Called ___” (Tom Hanks film) : OTTO
35 Oft-used phrase during Zoom meetings … or the reason for the misunderstandings at 17-, 26-, 50- and 60-Across? : YOU’RE ON MUTE!
39 Laptop brand : ACER
41 “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” : SOAPS
42 Vehicle at the center of the Hindu festival Ratha Yatra : CHARIOT
46 “The Marvelous ___ Maisel” : MRS
47 Health legislation of 2010, in brief : ACA
50 Note after la : TI (TIRE MARK – REMARK)
52 Discolor from age : YELLOW
54 “Groovy!” : FAB!
55 Snoops around : PRIES
57 Indian tonal drum : TABLA
58 Battery terminal : ANODE
60 Predatory freshwater fish : PIKE (PIKES PEAK – SPEAK)
62 Parking spot at a bar? : STOOL
63 Hydrox competitor : OREO
64 Combo meal choice : SIDE
65 Carvings named for the first man in Maori mythology : TIKIS
66 Beginning : DAWN
67 GPS’s guesses : ETAS

Down

1 Frightening Halloween costume : GOBLIN
2 Pro golfer Mark : O’MEARA
3 How detectives might start their investigation : ON A TIP
4 Ice cream units : PINTS
5 “Spring forward” hrs. : DST
6 Brother of Logan Roy on “Succession” : EWAN
7 Setting of “The Crucible” : SALEM
8 Stamping need : INK PAD
9 Aviator Earhart : AMELIA
10 Grandma, to Brits : NAN
11 The lead in pencils, actually : GRAPHITE
12 Charm : ENCHANT
13 First Disney song to reach the top 5 on Billboard in the 21st century : LET IT GO
18 “Bye!” : SEE YOU!
22 Dating app info : AGE
25 Scorch the surface of : SEAR
27 Features of spoiled milk : CLOTS
30 Ending with Power : -ADE
32 Peter who was the first actor to play a Bond villain : LORRE
33 A call for help : SOS
35 Collection of senior moments? : YEARBOOK
36 ___ de plume : NOM
37 Notable lamb owner : MARY
38 Knocks over : UPSETS
39 “Don’t wait!,” in ads : ACT FAST!
40 Wine from Tuscany : CHIANTI
43 Urges to action : IMPELS
44 Necessity for some Venetian transport : OAR
45 Yoga position on one’s head and hands : TRIPOD
47 Even though : ALBEIT
48 Rum cocktail : COLADA
49 Comes to : AWAKES
51 Actress Knightley : KEIRA
53 Memory glitch : LAPSE
56 Twist : SKEW
59 “___ want to know?” : DO I
61 Long, long time : EON

5 thoughts on “1214-23 NY Times Crossword 14 Dec 23, Thursday”

  1. 14:53, no errors. Reluctant to make my first entry as GOOP. Have seen the term DESI before, but not often. Not sure if it is pejorative or not.

    30D: Gatorade was named after the University of Florida Gators, where the drink was invented. Good thing it wasn’t developed at Florida State University. Don’t think Seminole Fluid would have had the same market appeal.

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