1219-23 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 23, Tuesday

Constructed by: Seth Weitberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: If I Were You

Themed answers are common phrases with a letter I changed to a letter U:

  • 59A Start of some advice … or a phonetic hint to 17-, 24-, 37- and 48-Across : IF I WERE YOU … or IF “I” WERE “U”
  • 17A “This cardboard belt is a waist of paper,” for example? : CLOTHES PUN (from “clothes pin”)
  • 24A Good times doing bench presses? : PECTORAL FUN (from “pectoral fin”)
  • 37A Why the pizza oven is so hard to clean? : MOZZARELLA STUCK (from “mozzarella stick”)
  • 48A Desire in the dessert aisle? : GROCERY LUST (from “grocery list”)

Bill’s time: 7m 46s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 ___ 2600 (bygone console) : ATARI

Kids today probably don’t realize that we had a video game console back in the seventies, and it wasn’t a Nintendo nor was it a PlayStation. The Atari 2600 game system introduced the idea of separating out computing hardware (the console) from the game code (a cartridge). The same concept persists to this day, although cartridges have been displaced by discs and downloads.

10 Worker welfare org. : OSHA

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

14 Guitar accessories : CAPOS

A capo is a clamp-like device that is placed around the neck of a guitar or other stringed instrument to shorten the strings, and hence raise the pitch. The full name, rarely used these days, is “capo tasto”, which is Italian for “head tie”.

15 ___-de-camp : AIDE

“Aide-de-camp” (ADC) is a French term that we have imported into English. The phrase translates to “field assistant” and usually applies to the most senior personal aide to a high-ranking military officer or head of state.

19 Like the Gobi : ARID

The Gobi, the large desert in Asia, lies in northern China and southern Mongolia. It is growing at an alarming rate, particularly towards the south. This “desertification” is caused by increased human activity. The Chinese government is trying to halt the desert’s forward progress by planting great swaths of new forest, the so-called “Green Wall of China”. The name “Gobi” is Mongolian for “waterless place, semidesert”.

21 Noon, on some clocks : XII

In Roman numerals, the number XII (12) lies between XI (11) and I (1) at the top of a clock face.

23 Year abroad : ANO

In Spanish, an “año” (year) is a “periodo de tiempo” (time frame, period of time).

29 Bread for baba ghanouj : PITA

Baba ganoush (also “baba ghanouj”) is an Arab dish with the main ingredient of mashed eggplant. It is sometimes served as a (delicious) dip.

30 Billy the Kid, for one : ALIAS

I’m guessing that the notorious Wild West outlaw Billy the Kid was of Irish stock as his family name was McCarty. Although he usually used the alias William H. Bonney, another indication of an Irish connection is that he also went by William Antrim, Henry Antrim and Kid Antrim, as Antrim is one of the six counties in the north of Ireland.

32 Granola grain : OAT

The names “Granola” and “Granula” were trademarked back in the late 1800s for whole-grain foods that were crumbled and baked until crisp. Granola was created in Dansville, New York in 1894.

37 Why the pizza oven is so hard to clean? : MOZZARELLA STUCK (from “mozzarella stick”)

String cheese is made in such a way that proteins in the cheese line up, giving it a “stringy” texture. In the US, we are most familiar with string mozzarella that comes in individually-wrapped “cheese sticks”.

41 Egyptian ruler from 51 to 30 B.C., familiarly : CLEO

Cleopatra was the last pharaoh to rule Egypt. After she died, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire.

44 Auditioned, maybe : READ

A trial performance to appraise the merits of an entertainer is known as an audition. When a group of entertainers is involved, the informal term “cattle call” might be used instead of “audition”. The idea is that those auditioning are often corralled into a single, large room (like “cattle”) prior to performing.

46 ___ poker (bluffing game) : LIAR’S

Liar’s poker is a bar game that is played with the eight digits of the serial number on a US dollar bill. The idea is to guess how often a particular digit appears in a particular serial number.

55 ___ Horan, Irish musician : NIALL

Niall Horan is an Irish singer and former member of the British boy band One Direction. Horan is from Mullinger, a town in the middle of the country from where my own ancestors hail. That’s really all that I know about him …

56 Summertime quaff : ADE

“Quaff” is both a verb and a noun. One “quaffs” (takes a hearty drink) of a “quaff” (a hearty drink).

58 ___-Seltzer : ALKA

Alka-Seltzer is a brand of fizzy antacid that has been marketed since 1931. In terms of ingredients, it is a mix of sodium bicarbonate, aspirin and anhydrous citric acid.

63 It has the makings of a hero : DELI

A hero is a submarine sandwich. It originated in New York City in the 1800s among Italian immigrants who wanted an Italian sandwich that reminded them of home. The name “hero” was coined in the 1930s, supposedly by a food critic in the “New York Herald Tribune” when he wrote that “one had to be a hero” to finish the gigantic sandwich. Hero is a prevalent term to this day in New York City, reserved for a submarine sandwich with an Italian flavor.

66 Convention freebies : SWAG

Swag is loot, stolen property, and a term that started out as criminal slang in England in the 1830s. “Swag” is also the name given to the promotional freebies available at some events. That said, there’s an urban myth that the promotional version of “swag” is an acronym standing for “stuff we all get”.

Down

1 Capital of Ghana : ACCRA

Accra sits on Ghana’s coast and is a major seaport as well as the country’s capital city. The name “Accra” comes from a local word “Nkran” meaning “ants”, a name chosen because of the large number of anthills found in the area when the city was founded.

2 Prey snatcher : TALON

A talon is a claw of a bird of prey. The term “talon” ultimately derives from “talus”, the Latin word for “ankle”.

3 Issue a mea culpa : APOLOGIZE

Many Roman Catholics are very familiar with the Latin phrase “mea culpa” meaning “my fault”, as it is used in the Latin Mass. The additional term “mea maxima culpa” translates as “my most grievous fault”.

10 How hors d’oeuvres may be served : ON A PLATTER

An hors d’oeuvre is a first course in a meal. “Hors d’oeuvre” translates from French as “apart from the work”, which really means “not the main course”.

11 Typographical embellishment : SERIF

Serifs are details on the ends of characters in some typefaces. Typefaces without serifs are known as sans-serif, using the French word “sans” meaning “without” and “serif” from the Dutch “schreef” meaning “line”. Some people say that serif fonts are easier to read on paper, whereas sans-serif fonts work better on a computer screen. I’m not so sure though …

12 17-syllable verse : HAIKU

A haiku is a very elegant form of Japanese verse. When writing a haiku in English we tend to impose the rule that the verse must contain 17 syllables. This restriction comes from the rule in Japanese that the verse must contain 17 sound units called “moras”, but moras and syllables aren’t the same thing. Sadly, the difference is not so clear to me. Here’s an example of a Haiku:

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don’t make sense
Refrigerator

13 French forest in a Shakespeare play : ARDEN

The Forest of Arden is the setting for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. Even though there is a Forest of Arden surrounding Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-on-Avon, as the play is set in France one has to assume that the “As You Like It” Arden is an anglicization of the forested “Ardennes” region that stretches from Belgium into France.

24 Where tourists might take a picture of themselves seemingly holding up a tower : PISA

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. It is known for its nearly four-degree lean, which is caused by an unstable foundation. The tower was built in the 12th century and began to lean during construction. The lean worsened over time, and by the 1990s, the tower was at risk of collapse with a lean of 5½ degrees. A major stabilization project was undertaken in the 1990s, which reduced the lean to 3.97 degrees.

25 Iridescent gem : OPAL

An opal is often described as having a milky iridescence known as opalescence.

26 Singer Ora : RITA

Rita Ora is a British singer who was born Rita Sahatçiu in Pristina, Yugoslavia to Albanian parents. The family name “Sahatçiu” comes from a Turkish word meaning “watchmaker”. Rita’s parents changed their name to make it easier to pronounce. So, the family name morphed from “watchmaker” to “time”, which is “ora” in Albanian.

28 Mollusks named for their shape : RAZOR CLAMS

Razor clams have long, narrow shells that resemble straight razors in shape, hence their name.

30 Largest movie theater chain in the world : AMC

The AMC theater chain used to go by the name American Multi-Cinema Inc., hence the initialism “AMC”.

35 Cinephile’s channel : TCM

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is one of my favorite television channels as it delivers just what its name promises, i.e. classic movies.

48 Nipping pests : GNATS

Gnats have a relatively short lifespan, of about 7-10 days.

50 Like some wine barrels : OAKEN

Oak barrels are sometimes used to store wine during fermentation and aging. The oak wood has a profound effect, usually changing the wine’s color, flavor and texture. If the wine is stored in stainless steel barrels, then a similar effect can be achieved by adding oak chips or staves to the liquid.

51 Boxer Ali whose first name contains only the letters in “Ali” : LAILA

Laila Ali is the daughter of the great Muhammad Ali and is a very capable boxer in her own right. Laila’s professional record is an impressive 24 wins, including 21 knockouts. Now retired, she never lost a fight, and nor did she ever draw. One of those victories was against Jackie Frazier-Lyde, daughter of her father’s nemesis Joe Frazier. Laila is not a bad dancer either, coming in third place in the fourth season of “Dancing with the Stars”.

53 How many sardines are packed : IN OIL

Sardines are oily fish related to herrings. They are also known as pilchards, although in the UK “sardine” is a noun reserved for a young pilchard. Very confusing …

57 WhatsApp owner : META

WhatsApp is a popular messaging service used on smartphones that sends messages and other files from one mobile phone number to another. Launched in 2011, WhatsApp is incredibly popular, and indeed the most popular messaging service used today. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, paying over $19 billion.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 ___ 2600 (bygone console) : ATARI
6 Raised : BRED
10 Worker welfare org. : OSHA
14 Guitar accessories : CAPOS
15 ___-de-camp : AIDE
16 Close by : NEAR
17 “This cardboard belt is a waist of paper,” for example? : CLOTHES PUN (from “clothes pin”)
19 Like the Gobi : ARID
20 Capacity : ROLE
21 Noon, on some clocks : XII
22 Sharp increase : SPIKE
23 Year abroad : ANO
24 Good times doing bench presses? : PECTORAL FUN (from “pectoral fin”)
27 “Canvases” for crossword constructors : GRIDS
29 Bread for baba ghanouj : PITA
30 Billy the Kid, for one : ALIAS
32 Granola grain : OAT
33 Reusable shopping bag : TOTE
37 Why the pizza oven is so hard to clean? : MOZZARELLA STUCK (from “mozzarella stick”)
41 Egyptian ruler from 51 to 30 B.C., familiarly : CLEO
42 “Curious …” : ODD …
43 “I want a turn!” : LET ME!
44 Auditioned, maybe : READ
46 ___ poker (bluffing game) : LIAR’S
48 Desire in the dessert aisle? : GROCERY LUST (from “grocery list”)
52 Stock advice, say : TIP
55 ___ Horan, Irish musician : NIALL
56 Summertime quaff : ADE
57 Hand, in Spanish : MANO
58 ___-Seltzer : ALKA
59 Start of some advice … or a phonetic hint to 17-, 24-, 37- and 48-Across : IF I WERE YOU … or IF “I” WERE “U”
62 Overflow (with) : TEEM
63 It has the makings of a hero : DELI
64 Took a dive : ATE IT
65 Tax form figs. : SSNS
66 Convention freebies : SWAG
67 One way to be in love : MADLY

Down

1 Capital of Ghana : ACCRA
2 Prey snatcher : TALON
3 Issue a mea culpa : APOLOGIZE
4 Mechanical repetition : ROTE
5 “Sorta” suffix : ISH
6 White tees and blue jeans, e.g. : BASICS
7 Hit the ball out of the park, say : RIP IT
8 End of an academic address : EDU
9 Fox’s refuge : DEN
10 How hors d’oeuvres may be served : ON A PLATTER
11 Typographical embellishment : SERIF
12 17-syllable verse : HAIKU
13 French forest in a Shakespeare play : ARDEN
18 Ticked, as a box : EXED
22 Took a load off : SAT
24 Where tourists might take a picture of themselves seemingly holding up a tower : PISA
25 Iridescent gem : OPAL
26 Singer Ora : RITA
28 Mollusks named for their shape : RAZOR CLAMS
30 Largest movie theater chain in the world : AMC
31 “Hilarious!,” in a text : LOL!
32 Shabby, maybe : OLD
34 Lasted longer than : OUTSTAYED
35 Cinephile’s channel : TCM
36 Scrape (out) : EKE
38 Shout with laughter : ROAR
39 Little whirlpool : EDDY
40 Bedframe piece : SLAT
45 Snakelike fish : EEL
46 “Black Panther” composer Göransson, who shares his first name with another famous composer : LUDWIG
47 “OK, got it” : I SEE
48 Nipping pests : GNATS
49 Nettles : RILES
50 Like some wine barrels : OAKEN
51 Boxer Ali whose first name contains only the letters in “Ali” : LAILA
53 How many sardines are packed : IN OIL
54 Petulant : POUTY
57 WhatsApp owner : META
59 They might be checked at the door : IDS
60 Not a lot : FEW
61 One that ewe can count on? : RAM

9 thoughts on “1219-23 NY Times Crossword 19 Dec 23, Tuesday”

  1. 16:15, no errors. Smooth and easy, except when it wasn’t. Got bogged down in the SE corner. Couldn’t wrap my head around OUTSTAYED or POUTY.

  2. No errors.. little twisty in places.

    Speaking of twisty,…. never heard of Razor Clams… they look more meatier than what I’ve seen. Would love to try one!

  3. Just a footnote to yesterday’s comment. It’s not a one-off observation. I noticed it week in, week out. Some of the regulars up top, who also think looks-ups are fine and declare ‘no errors after correcting x errors, have quite average or mediocre times for Mon./Tues yet often seem to pull off quite impressive times for Fri./Sat. often with no errors.
    Today it’s the same thing. I got 10:27 clean, without great effort, and I’m far from expert,yet come Fri. / Sat. some of them often manage to pull off quite fast times with no error. If I believe that, that’s quite something. Could be wrong, but I choose to remain skeptical and , with that, I’m outta here.

    1. quite average or mediocre times for Mon./Tues yet often seem to pull off quite impressive times for Fri./Sat. often with no errors.

      I won’t go into the other issue of things being “suspect” (that’s been hashed out many times), but you can definitely see in my videos these days (especially for the LAT and Universal) that my times are mostly pretty flat over the course of the week.

      My thought is that I’m (mostly) mastering the puzzles themselves but haven’t found how do puzzles the “correct” way to be any quicker so I’m walling out times based on that. (Part of why I wanted to record is to be able to “film study”, so I’m slowly trying to figure out what I’m doing “wrong” in solving crossword puzzles, but I’m reminded too it takes mental focus and discipline that is there more times than others for me.)

      You’re probably noticing the same thing in others in reflection of the effort and method they use to solve these things. After all, I’m reminded some of the same people you’ve looked at have stated their general lack of interest to “improve” (however you want to define that word) in a certain way. Like I say it, I don’t really push that hard to be fast, but I’m not going to dilly-dally over doing crosswords either.

    2. The time it takes to do a puzzle depends on two things: 1) the intrinsic difficulty of coming up with the answers; and 2) the ability to find the answers in the “best” order and to enter them efficiently (using pen or pencil on paper or one of a variety of online tools). The second affects one’s timing on early-week puzzles more than it does on late-week puzzles.

      I would observe that some of us really don’t care enough about timing to work on improving our efficiency in area 2 (and, in fact, find it really annoying to try). Others do care and I’m okay with that; isn’t there room enough here for all of us?

Leave a Reply

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