1223-23 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 23, Saturday

Constructed by: Will Nediger
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 22m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Modern-day scrapbooks, of a sort : PINTEREST BOARDS

Pinterest is a free website which can be used to save and manage images (called “pins”) and other media. For some reason, the vast majority of Pinterest users are women.

18 Home of the Kingdom of Dahomey, today : BENIN

The Republic of Benin is a country in West Africa. Benin used to be a French colony, and was known as Dahomey. Dahomey gained independence in 1975, and took the name Benin after the Bight of Benin, the body of water on which the country lies.

20 Like a proposal in Congress that has zero chance of passing, in brief : DOA

Dead on arrival (DOA)

21 ___ Morgenstern, author of “The Night Circus” : ERIN

Erin Morgenstern is an author from Marshfield, Massachusetts who published her first novel in 2011. It is a tale of magic and romance called “The Night Circus” that has been compared with the “Harry Potter” series of books.

22 Heavyweight wrestlers : SUMOS

Sumo is a sport that is practiced professionally only in Japan, the country of its origin. There is an international federation of sumo wrestling now, and one of the organization’s aims is to have the sport accepted as an Olympic event.

25 Org. that employs Hank on “Breaking Bad” : DEA

Hank Schrader is a DEA agent in the hit TV show “Breaking Bad”. Portrayed by actor Dean Norris, Schrader is the brother-in-law of Walter White, the protagonist in the story. The twist is that Hank is chasing down a notorious meth “cook”, and he doesn’t realize that his quarry is his own brother-in-law Walter.

26 Five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist McCoy ___ : TYNER

McCoy Tyner is a jazz pianist from Philadelphia. For many years, Tyner was a member of the John Coltrane Quartet. McCoy’s younger brother is Jarvis Tyner, a member of the Communist Party USA who ran for Vice President in 1972 and 1976.

27 Something large often stored upside down : CANOE

The boat known as a canoe takes its name from the Carib word “kenu” meaning “dugout”. It was Christopher Columbus who brought “kenu” into Spanish as “canoa”, which evolved into our English “canoe”.

28 Does : HINDS

Nowadays, a hart is a male red deer over five years old. A hind is a female red deer.

30 Auto parts brand owned by GM : AC DELCO

“Delco” is an acronym standing for Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company. Delco is often seen in the brand name “ACDelco”. The AC stands for Albert Champion, who was famous for the development of the spark plug.

36 Shiny button material : NACRE

Nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, is the strong iridescent material laid down by some mollusks on the inside of their shells, and it’s also what makes up pearls. The creature lays down nacre as a defensive mechanism, protecting the soft tissue of its body from the rough surface of the outer shell. Similarly, it uses nacre to encapsulate harmful debris or a parasite that penetrates the shell, and that’s how a pearl is formed. Cultured pearls are made by inserting a tissue graft from a donor oyster, around which the nacre is laid down.

37 Europe, Asia and America : BANDS

Asia is a British supergroup, a group comprising four members from four other rock bands. The original lineup was:

  • John Wetton (formerly of Roxy Music)
  • Stephen Howe (from Yes)
  • Geoff Downes (from the Buggles, and from Yes)
  • Carl Palmer (from Emerson, Lake and Palmer)

America is a rock band, a trio of American musicians that got together in London in 1970. All three were the sons of USAF personnel who were stationed in England at the time. America’s biggest hit has to be “A Horse with No Name” that was released in Europe and 1971 and in the US in 1972. Great song …

38 Some vaccine administrators, in brief : RNS

A vaccine used to be a modified virus administered to an individual to stimulate the immune system into developing immunity, until mRNA vaccines were introduced to combat COVID-19. British physician Edward Jenner came up with the first vaccine, injecting people with the cowpox virus in order to prevent smallpox. The term “vaccination” comes from the Latin “vaccinus” meaning “from cows”, with “vacca” translating as “cow”.

42 Refuses to keep going : BALKS

To balk is to stop and refuse to go on. It’s not just a baseball term …

45 Member of an elite force : SEAL

“SEAL” is an acronym used by the US Navy’s SEa, Air and Land teams. The SEALs were born out of the Navy’s special warfare groups from WWII, like the Underwater Demolition Teams and the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons. The Navy SEAL unit was established soon after President Kennedy’s famous speech in which he announced the plan to put a man on the moon, as in the same speech the president allocated $100m of funding to strengthen special operations forces. The Navy used some of this money to set up guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units, which soon became the SEALs.

51 Sierra Nevada offering : AMERICAN PALE ALE

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is powered almost exclusively by solar energy, and even has a charging station for electric vehicles at its brewery. The company also uses the cooking oil from its restaurant as biodiesel for its delivery trucks. Discarded yeast is used to make ethanol fuel, and spent grain is used as food for livestock. For its efforts to preserve the environment, Sierra Nevada won the EPA’s “Green Business of the Year” award for 2010.

Down

3 Literary domain of Peter the Magnificent and Susan the Gentle : NARNIA

In the C.S. Lewis novel “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, four siblings visit the magical land of Narnia via a wardrobe in the spare room of the house in which they are living while evacuated during WWII. The children are Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie.

7 Hearing monitor, for short : ENT

Ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT)

9 Comic Noah who wrote the autobiographical “Born a Crime” : TREVOR

“Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” is a comedic autobiographical book penned by comedian Trevor Noah. It tells of Noah’s early life growing up during apartheid in South Africa. The title refers to the fact that black-white marriages were illegal under apartheid, and the very existence of a mixed-race child was evidence of a crime.

10 Actress Amanda : BYNES

Amanda Bynes is an actress who made it big as a teenager on TV shows like “All That” and “The Amanda Show”. She then moved on to play teen roles on the big screen, particularly in “She’s the Man” and “Hairspray”.

14 Like a dirge : DOLOROUS

A dirge is a slow and mournful piece of music, like perhaps a funeral hymn.

15 Athletic items never purchased individually : SNEAKERS

“Sneaker” is a common name for an athletic shoe, one that is now used as everyday casual wear. The term “sneaker” is used widely across the US. Back in my homeland of Ireland, the terms “trainer” and “tennis shoe” are more common.

24 Kind of ray : MANTA

The manta ray is the largest species of ray, with the biggest one recorded at over 25 feet across and weighing 5,100 pounds. It is sometimes referred to as the sea devil.

26 Piña colada topper : TILDE

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.

28 One of two Tudor kings : HENRY

The Wars of the Roses was a series of civil wars fought for the throne of England between the rival Houses of Lancaster (with a symbol of a red rose) and York (with a symbol of a white rose). Ultimately the Lancastrians emerged victorious after Henry Tudor defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry was crowned King Henry VII, and so began the Tudor dynasty. Henry Tudor united the rival houses by marrying his cousin Elizabeth of York. Henry VII had a relatively long reign of 23 years that lasted until his death, after which his son succeeded to the throne as Henry VIII, continuing the relatively short-lived Tudor dynasty. Henry VIII ruled from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry VIII was the last male to lead the House of Tudor, as his daughter Queen Elizabeth I died without issue. When Elizabeth died, the Scottish King James VI succeeded to the throne as James I of England and Ireland. James I was the first English monarch of the House of Stuart.

31 Madiba, for Nelson Mandela : CLAN NAME

Nelson Mandela was often called “Madiba”, which was his Xhosa clan name. He was also known affectionately as “Tata”, the Xhosa word for “Father”.

35 Capital on the Gulf of Finland : TALLINN

Tallinn is the largest city in the former Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) of Estonia, and is now the nation’s capital. Tallinn is sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of Europe, and indeed it was in Tallinn that the video chat service Skype was developed. It is also home to NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence that is sponsored by several NATO members, including the US.

37 Words sung on the same notes as “twinkle,” in a different nursery rhyme : BAA BAA

The old English nursery rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is usually sung as:

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

The tune that accompanies the rhyme is a variant of the French melody “Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman”, which we know best in English as the tune for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

39 Longtime police procedural that ended in 2023, informally : NCIS: LA

NCIS is the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigates crimes in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The service gives its name to the CBS TV show “NCIS”, a spin-off drama from “JAG” in which the main “NCIS” characters were first introduced. The big star in “NCIS” is the actor Mark Harmon. “NCIS” is now a franchise, with spin-off shows “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans”.

40 Expert with figures? : SKATER

Figure skating started out as a sport in which a skater demonstrated skill at carving out specific patterns into the ice (a figure-8, for example). Over time, the sport placed greater influence on free skating. Compulsory figures were dropped completely from most international competitions in the 1990s, but the name “figure” skating has been retained.

43 Philosopher who was a major influence on Marx : HEGEL

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, and one of the founders of the German idealism movement. “Idealism”, in the context of the movement, was the principle that objects did not have properties in themselves, but rather that an object’s properties depended on the person perceiving the object.

46 One whose distance may be measured by the yard? : MOLE

One of the more commonly known facts about my native Ireland is that there are no snakes in the country (outside of politics, that is). A lesser known fact is that there are no moles either. There are plenty of snakes and moles in Britain, just a few miles away. Over a pint, we tend to give the credit to Saint Patrick, but the last ice age is more likely the responsible party …

48 Division of the Treasury Dept. : IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

49 Black ___ : OPS

Black ops are covert operations, activities that are usually outside of standard military protocol and may even be against the law. Funding for black ops is usually provided by a secret “black budget”.

50 West Coast news inits. : LAT

The “Los Angeles Times” newspaper started out life in 1881 as the “Los Angeles Daily Times”. The paper has a turbulent history, especially in the early 1900s when management and unions were at loggerheads. In 1910, two union members bombed the “Los Angeles Times” building causing a fire that killed 21 newspaper employees.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Modern-day scrapbooks, of a sort : PINTEREST BOARDS
16 Common cybersecurity measure : EMAIL ENCRYPTION
17 Successfully strike a delicate balance : THREAD THE NEEDLE
18 Home of the Kingdom of Dahomey, today : BENIN
19 Balanced : EVEN
20 Like a proposal in Congress that has zero chance of passing, in brief : DOA
21 ___ Morgenstern, author of “The Night Circus” : ERIN
22 Heavyweight wrestlers : SUMOS
24 Sign … or signature : MARK
25 Org. that employs Hank on “Breaking Bad” : DEA
26 Five-time Grammy-winning jazz pianist McCoy ___ : TYNER
27 Something large often stored upside down : CANOE
28 Does : HINDS
29 See eye to eye : CONCUR
30 Auto parts brand owned by GM : AC DELCO
33 Party leader? : HOSTESS
34 Special coffee shop offerings : BLENDS
35 Sandwich made with a telera roll : TORTA
36 Shiny button material : NACRE
37 Europe, Asia and America : BANDS
38 Some vaccine administrators, in brief : RNS
41 The low, low price of : ONLY
42 Refuses to keep going : BALKS
43 Handy trick : HACK
44 Molecule that can interfere in gene expression : RNA
45 Member of an elite force : SEAL
46 Watercolor, clay and others : MEDIA
47 Academic who works with many different schools, maybe : MARINE BIOLOGIST
51 Sierra Nevada offering : AMERICAN PALE ALE
52 Mediocre at best : LESS THAN STELLAR

Down

1 Place to let sleeping dogs lie : PET BED
2 Arrival announcement : I’M HERE!
3 Literary domain of Peter the Magnificent and Susan the Gentle : NARNIA
4 Marketing link : TIE-IN
5 ___ vital (life force, from the French) : ELAN
6 Fire-engine ___ : RED
7 Hearing monitor, for short : ENT
8 Rhyming arrangements, e.g. : SCHEMES
9 Comic Noah who wrote the autobiographical “Born a Crime” : TREVOR
10 Actress Amanda : BYNES
11 Many a tournament : OPEN
12 ___ and ran : ATE
13 “Good ___!” : RIDDANCE
14 Like a dirge : DOLOROUS
15 Athletic items never purchased individually : SNEAKERS
22 Aligns : SYNCS
23 Command after an accidental deletion : UNDO
24 Kind of ray : MANTA
26 Piña colada topper : TILDE
27 Goes for : COSTS
28 One of two Tudor kings : HENRY
29 Tangle in an office : CORDS
30 Not what you’d expect : ABNORMAL
31 Madiba, for Nelson Mandela : CLAN NAME
32 States : DECLARES
33 Loud bird sound : HONK!
35 Capital on the Gulf of Finland : TALLINN
37 Words sung on the same notes as “twinkle,” in a different nursery rhyme : BAA BAA
38 Branching out from the center : RADIAL
39 Longtime police procedural that ended in 2023, informally : NCIS: LA
40 Expert with figures? : SKATER
42 Wood for smoking andouille sausage : BEECH
43 Philosopher who was a major influence on Marx : HEGEL
45 Hissy : SNIT
46 One whose distance may be measured by the yard? : MOLE
48 Division of the Treasury Dept. : IRS
49 Black ___ : OPS
50 West Coast news inits. : LAT

7 thoughts on “1223-23 NY Times Crossword 23 Dec 23, Saturday”

  1. 25:33, no errors. A struggle, but not as much of one as my first glance at the grid suggested it might turn out to be. McCoy TYNER was the only thing totally new to me.

  2. Well, that was a bugger! 35:48, no errors BUT I needed one lookup to get the last of it done. Yeah, I never would’ve gotten PINTERESTBOARDS. 🤮

  3. 58:05, surprised to finish after looking at all the long across answers and thinking “oh crap….”. Had “ACDelco”, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, then did.

    Finally feeling human after three weeks of RSV, the one vaccination I didn’t get….

  4. DNF. had 2 lookups. TYNER and TALLINN.

    must of been a T thing.. oh well.

    Otherwise, think I’m getting better with Saturdays. Not as much blue ink smears!!!

  5. I got sassy the last few days and got my comeuppance. Finished 54:55 with BYNES and TALLINN assists. Excellent puzzle.

  6. After one Google that provided me with the last three letters of a certain dramatist’s name at 21-Across, I finally managed to complete today’s “Stumper” (from Newsday) correctly. I don’t want to ruin anybody’s fun by giving details, but … if anyone here does that puzzle and has a good explanation for the clue for 13-Down (which, IMHO, goes beyond vague and obscure into borderline-and-possibly-incorrect territory), please clue me in … 🙂.

  7. Bill, this is probably too late for you to see, but Henry VIII wasn’t the last male in the Tudor line. He had a son, Edward VI, who reigned for a few years.
    I don’t show up here much, but like a lot of people, I enjoy the NYT puzzles twice as much as I would otherwise because of your blog.

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