1221-23 NY Times Crossword 21 Dec 23, Thursday

Constructed by: David Steinberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer(s): Go Down in Flames

Themed answers are all in the DOWN-direction. They are “surrounded” by synonyms of “FLAMES” divided between the top and bottom of the grid:

  • 9D With 47-Down, fail spectacularly … or what the answers to the starred clues do? : GO DOWN IN …
  • 47D See 9-Down : … FLAMES
  • Go down in BLA-ZE
  • 3D *What iodine might do : (BLA)STING
  • 45D *Liberated : FREE(ZE)
  • Go down in FI-RE
  • 5D *Expresses regret about : (FI)LAMENTS
  • 52D *Place to be pampered : SPA(RE)
  • Go down in INFER-NO
  • 7D *Blank, e.g., in Scrabble : (INFER)TILE
  • 53D *X, to a sorority sister : CHI(NO)

Bill’s time: 11m 28s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Queue before Q : LGBT

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ)

5 Org. with a top 10 list : FBI

The FBI was the first agency to create a “most wanted list”, introducing the “FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list in 1950. Director J. Edgar Hoover came up with the idea after fielding a question from a journalist asking for the names and description of the “toughest guys” being sought by the FBI. One misconception about the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list is that it is ranked, but there is no such thing as the “#1 Most Wanted Fugitive”.

8 Some fluffy slippers : UGGS

Uggs are sheepskin boots that were first produced in Australia and New Zealand. The original Uggs have sheepskin fleece on the inside for comfort and insulation, with a tanned leather surface on the outside for durability. “Ugg” is a generic term Down Under, although it’s a brand name here in the US.

12 “The Good Dinosaur” dinosaur : ARLO

“The Good Dinosaur” is a Pixar movie that premiered in Paris on November 14th, 2015 under the title “Le Voyage d’Arlo”.

16 Water under the drawbridge : MOAT

A moat is a protective trench that surrounds a castle, say, or an exhibit in a zoo. A moat may or may not be filled with water.

18 Nov. or Dec. event for a Sagittarius : B’DAY

Sagittarius is the ninth sign of the zodiac, with “sagittarius” being the Latin for “archer”. The related constellation is usually represented by a centaur (half-bull, half-man) with a bow.

19 Transport, in a way : BUS

We use the term “bus” for a mode of transportation as it is an abbreviated form of the original “omnibus”. We imported “omnibus” via French from Latin, in which language it means “for all”. The idea is that an omnibus is a carriage “for all”.

25 Messenger ___ : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA. An added complication is that small changes in the sequence of amino acids specified by DNA sometimes takes place in a process known as RNA editing. This RNA editing occurs after the nucleotide sequence has been transcribed from DNA, but before it is translated into protein.

27 Reefer and clipper : SHIPS

A clipper was a three-masted sailing ship commonly crossing the seas in the 19th century. Clippers were built for speed, so were narrow and had less room for carrying freight than many vessels used in trade. They were developed largely due to the demand for speedy delivery of fresh tea from China to Europe. The name comes from the term “to clip” meaning to move swiftly (as in “at a clip”). Perhaps the most famous clipper ship is the Cutty Sark built in 1869, the last clipper to be built as a merchant vessel. The Cutty Sark owes her fame to the fact that she is on display as a museum ship in a dry dock in Greenwich in London.

29 Scarf down : EAT

To snarf down is to gobble up, to eat voraciously. “Snarf” is a slang term that is probably related to “scarf”, which has the same meaning.

31 Group known for playing mind games : MENSA

Mensa is a high-IQ society that was founded in Oxford, England in 1946. The founders were two lawyers: Australian Roland Berrill and Englishman Lancelot Ware. Apparently, the elitist founders were unhappy with the development of Mensa, given that most members came from the working and lower classes.

36 “Knives Out” director Johnson : RIAN

Filmmaker Rian Johnson wrote and directed quite a few major films, including “Looper” (2012), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) and “Knives Out” (2019).

“Knives Out” is an intriguing murder mystery film released in 2019. There’s a great cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer. I really enjoyed this one, partly because it’s a clever, contemporary take on a classic whodunit movie …

43 Duo with the 2011 #1 hit “Party Rock Anthem” : LMFAO

LMFAO was an electronic dance music duo who were active from 2006 until 2012. The duo’s stage names were Redfoo and SkyBlu, with the former being the uncle of the latter. Never heard of ‘em …

53 Brown in strips : CHARLIE

Charlie Brown is the main character in the long-running comic strip called “Peanuts”, created by Charles Schulz. Charlie’s catchphrase is “good grief”. He has several persistent frustrations in his life, including an inability to fly a kite. The focus of his kite-flying frustration is the dreaded Kite-Eating Tree.

58 2010 health law, in brief : ACA

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

64 Bird that flies with its neck outstretched : CRANE

The magnificent birds known as cranes have long legs and long necks. The species called the Sarus Crane is the world’s tallest flying bird.

65 “Good as ___” (Lizzo hit) : HELL

“Good as Hell” is a 2016 song co-written and released by rapper Lizzo. It was originally recorded for the soundtrack of the 2016 comedy film “Barbershop: The Next Cut”.

67 Substitute for “subs” : HEROS

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.

Down

3 *What iodine might do : (BLA)STING

Tincture of iodine is a disinfectant. A “tincture” is a substance used in dyeing. Since the 1600s, “tincture” has also been used for a solution of medicine in an alcohol mixture.

7 *Blank, e.g., in Scrabble : (INFER)TILE

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

8 Kind of port : USB

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard dealing with how computers and electronic devices connect and communicate, and dealing with electrical power through those connections.

11 Protein-rich crop : SOY BEANS

What are known as soybeans here in the US are called “soya beans” in most other English-speaking countries. So, I drink soy milk here in America, but when I am over in Ireland I drink “soya milk”.

13 TV newswoman Spencer : LARA

Lara Spencer has been co-anchor of “Good Morning America” since 2011, working alongside Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. Back in 2004/2005, PBS viewers will have seen Spencer hosting the hit show “Antiques Roadshow”.

20 Bank offerings, in brief : CDS

A certificate of deposit (CD) is like a less-flexible and higher-paying savings account. Instead of depositing money into a savings account and earning interest periodically, one can open a CD. With a CD one deposits a minimum amount of money but must leave it there for a specified length of time. In return for committing the funds for a fixed period, one is given a higher interest rate than a savings account and can redeem that interest and the initial deposit when the term has expired. CDs are relatively low-risk investments as they are FDIC insured, just like savings accounts.

21 Receptionist-turned-administrator on “The Office” : PAM

In the excellent sitcom “The Office”, the character Pam Halpert (née Beesly) is played very ably by Jenna Fischer. If you’ve seen the original version of “The Office” from the UK, then you’d have met Pam’s equivalent character, whose name is Dawn Tinsley.

34 Wash. setting : USA

The people from what today is Washington state first petitioned the US Congress for statehood in 1852. At that time the proposal was to name the new state Columbia, but this was rejected as it was felt that a state called Columbia might be confused with the District of Columbia. Somewhat bizarrely, the alternative name of Washington was accepted. Certainly, the name Washington honors the first President, but there’s still potential confusion with the nation’s capital. I hate to admit my ignorance, but as a young man in Ireland, whenever I heard talk of Washington (state), I assumed the discussion was about Washington, D.C. …

41 Booty : LOOT

“Booty”, meaning “plunder, profit”, is derived from the Old French word “butin” that has the same meaning.

42 Taylor Swift’s record-setting ___ Tour : ERAS

“The Eras Tour” by singer-songwriter Taylor Swift began on Saint Patrick’s Day 2023. Having not toured for her studio albums “Lover”, “Folklore”, and “Evermore” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift pulled together the Eras Tour in support of all of her albums.

48 Maker of Max Throat Care drops : RICOLA

Ricola is a Swiss brand of cough drops and breath mints.

53 *X, to a sorority sister : CHI(NO)

The letter chi is the 22nd letter in the Greek alphabet, and the one that looks like our Roman letter X.

54 Camouflages : HIDES

Our word “camouflage” (often abbreviated to “camo”) evolved directly from a Parisian slang term “camoufler” meaning “to disguise”. The term was first used in WWI, although the British navy at that time preferred the expression “dazzle-painting” as it applied to the pattern painted on the hulls of ships.

57 Way up on a mountain : T-BAR

A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, which is a similar device but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.

60 Middle C, e.g. : KEY

On the keyboard of a standard piano, the fourth C-key from the left is in the center of the keyboard and is referred to as “middle C”.

62 With 33-Across, deep-sea catch : AHI …
33 See 62-Down : … TUNA

Ahi tuna is also known as yellowfin tuna and is a popular fish for sushi and sashimi. However, due to overfishing, ahi tuna populations are at risk.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Queue before Q : LGBT
5 Org. with a top 10 list : FBI
8 Some fluffy slippers : UGGS
12 “The Good Dinosaur” dinosaur : ARLO
13 Predators whose females are the main hunters : LIONS
15 Stand-out performance? : SOLO
16 Water under the drawbridge : MOAT
17 High up : ALOFT
18 Nov. or Dec. event for a Sagittarius : B’DAY
19 Transport, in a way : BUS
20 Put in a box : CRATE UP
22 It’s a ball : ORB
23 Fitting : APT
24 Irrigation structure : DAM
25 Messenger ___ : RNA
26 Teeny : WEE
27 Reefer and clipper : SHIPS
29 Scarf down : EAT
31 Group known for playing mind games : MENSA
33 See 62-Down : … TUNA
34 Not cool : UNHIP
36 “Knives Out” director Johnson : RIAN
37 Like a custard : EGGY
38 Farmer’s market booth : STALL
39 Kitchen cabinet climbers : ANTS
40 People don’t see through them : GLASS EYES
43 Duo with the 2011 #1 hit “Party Rock Anthem” : LMFAO
46 Cook again in oil : REFRY
50 Cooks, as some kernels : AIR POPS
53 Brown in strips : CHARLIE
55 Lead-in to season : PRE-
56 “Bet you can’t do better!” : TOP THIS!
58 2010 health law, in brief : ACA
59 Hard walk : TREK
61 Fanatical : RABID
62 Latin love : AMOR
63 Sludge : OOZE
64 Bird that flies with its neck outstretched : CRANE
65 “Good as ___” (Lizzo hit) : HELL
66 Wild catch? : PREY
67 Substitute for “subs” : HEROS
68 “Golly!” : I SAY!

Down

1 Criticize harshly : LAMBASTE
2 Squeeze together? : GROUP HUG
3 *What iodine might do : (BLA)STING
4 Squirt : TOT
5 *Expresses regret about : (FI)LAMENTS
6 Bit of skiwear : BOOT
7 *Blank, e.g., in Scrabble : (INFER)TILE
8 Kind of port : USB
9 With 47-Down, fail spectacularly … or what the answers to the starred clues do? : GO DOWN IN …
10 Gives an angry look : GLARES AT
11 Protein-rich crop : SOY BEANS
13 TV newswoman Spencer : LARA
14 Daze : STUN
20 Bank offerings, in brief : CDS
21 Receptionist-turned-administrator on “The Office” : PAM
28 Workplace inequity : PAY GAP
30 Moments of discovery : AHAS
32 This might get the word out : ERASER
34 Wash. setting : USA
35 Layer on a roll : PLY
41 Booty : LOOT
42 Taylor Swift’s record-setting ___ Tour : ERAS
43 Something to work on : LAPTOP
44 Something to look into : MIRROR
45 *Liberated : FREE(ZE)
47 See 9-Down : … FLAMES
48 Maker of Max Throat Care drops : RICOLA
49 Adverb for an anniversary : YEARLY
51 Delivery site : PORCH
52 *Place to be pampered : SPA(RE)
53 *X, to a sorority sister : CHI(NO)
54 Camouflages : HIDES
57 Way up on a mountain : T-BAR
60 Middle C, e.g. : KEY
62 With 33-Across, deep-sea catch : AHI …

9 thoughts on “1221-23 NY Times Crossword 21 Dec 23, Thursday”

  1. 20:28, no errors. Understanding the gimmick took a long time. Definitely not my best performance on a puzzle.

    (And, MNOP occupied 1-Across for a lot longer than I’m willing to reveal … 😜.)

  2. 21:15, no errors. Similar to Dave’s experience, MNOP made the NW corner the second-to-last section to fall. The SW corner fell last.
    As a resident of the ‘other Washington’, may first guess at 34D was PST (Pacific Standard Time).

  3. 51:20, I combined Dave’s “MNOP” and Bruce’s “PST” into my slog. Even after getting the gimmick and seeing the shaded squares, I still had over twice the solving fun than the rest of you😇

  4. I neglected to mention it yesterday, but I also had PST for a long time before realizing it should be USA, so … there were at least two lovely bits of misdirection in this puzzle.

  5. Same as others with the misdirection on MNOP and then LGBT.

    but LMFAO held me up the longest until I got the down word

  6. One error…AREO for 12A…if I had picked up the theme, which I didn’t then I would have seen the error but I didn’t so I didn’t👎👎
    Stay safe😀
    Go Ravens🏈🏈

  7. 14:42- no errors after fixing MNOP and PST. Guessed ARLO over AREO. Like others, northwest and southwest last to go. Never heard of LMFAO as a singing duo. In Dallas (Morning News) we get the daily puzzles 5 weeks later. Sunday, 2 weeks. Why? No idea.

  8. Chris: the Long Beach Press-Telegram runs the puzzles on the same schedule as your Morning News. I’ve always assumed
    they cost the paper less than they would on the “first run” date.

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