1228-23 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 23, Thursday

Constructed by: Kiran Pandey
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): It’s, Like, Picture Perfect

Themed answers are common phrases reinterpreted as film titles, followed by a “fantastic” synonym:

  • 17A “That 1978 musical? Amazing movie!” : GREASE? FIRE!
  • 25A “That 2009 Pixar film? Incredibly well made!” : UP? TIGHT!
  • 36A “That 2013 Disney movie? Pretty decent!” : FROZEN? SOLID!
  • 51A “That 2009 science fiction flick? Freaking epic!” : MOON? LIT!
  • 61A “That 2011 neo-noir? Insanely good!” : DRIVE? CRAZY!

Bill’s time: 10m 38s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Deity from whose hair flows the river Ganga : SHIVA

Shiva (also “Siva”) is one of the major deities of the Hindu tradition, and is known as the destroyer of evil and the transformer. Shiva is also part of the Hindu trinity known as the Trimurti, along with Brahma and Vishnu.

The River Ganges rises in the western Himalaya and flows through the northeast of India before crossing into Bangladesh where it enters the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is worshiped by Hindus as the goddess Ganga, and is the most sacred of all rivers in Hinduism.

14 Dublin’s land : EIRE

“Éire” is the Irish name for Ireland, coming from “Ériu”. Ériu was the matron goddess of Ireland in Irish mythology.

17 “That 1978 musical? Amazing movie!” : GREASE? FIRE!

“Grease” is a very successful stage musical with a blockbuster film version released in 1978. “You’re the One That I Want” is a song that was written especially for the movie, and it made it to number one in the charts, followed soon after by the “Grease” theme song.

22 One in a black suit : SPADE

25 “That 2009 Pixar film? Incredibly well made!” : UP? TIGHT!

“Up” was the tenth movie released by Pixar studios, and features the wonderful animation that we have come to expect from Pixar. The film earned itself two Academy Awards. The main voice actor is Ed Asner, whose animated persona as Carl Fredricksen was created to resemble Spencer Tracy, as Tracy appeared in his last film, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.

28 ___ Kippur : YOM

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. It is also known as the Day of Atonement.

31 Cereal with a Mega Stuf version : OREO O’S

Double Stuf Oreos were introduced in 1975, and have twice the normal amount of white cream filling as the original cookie. Nabisco really went big in 2013, introducing the Mega Stuf Oreo that has even more white cream filling.

34 Coelho who wrote “The Alchemist” : PAULO

Paulo Coelho is a novelist and lyricist from Brazil. He wrote the novel titled “The Alchemist” in 1987, which was destined to become one of the biggest selling books in history. It is also the most translated book written by any living author, and is available in 71 languages.

36 “That 2013 Disney movie? Pretty decent!” : FROZEN? SOLID!

“Frozen” is a 2013 animated feature from Walt Disney Studios that is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. The film is all about the exploits of Princess Anna, the younger sister of Elsa, Snow Queen of Arendelle. Elsa was originally intended to be a villain, a malicious and power-hungry character. By the final version of the film, Elsa had transformed from a one-dimensional villain into a fully fleshed-out protagonist.

40 Experience four seasons in one day, say? : BINGE

I’m a big fan of binge-watching, the practice of watching perhaps two or three (even four!) episodes of a show in a row. My wife and I will often deliberately avoid watching a recommended show live, and instead wait until the whole series has been released online. I’m not a big fan of “tune in next week …”

47 Menace in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” : ASP

According to the “Indiana Jones” series of films, Indy’s fear of snakes goes back when he was a young man. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, we see actor River Phoenix playing young Indie as a Boy Scout and falling into a huge pit of snakes during a chase scene.

53 Biblical mount : ARARAT

Mount Ararat is in Turkey. It is a snow-capped, dormant volcano with two peaks. The higher of the two, Greater Ararat, is the tallest peak in the country. Ararat takes its name from a legendary Armenian hero called Ara the Beautiful (or “Ara the Handsome”). According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat as the Great Flood subsided.

56 Early employer of Steve Jobs : ATARI

Atari was founded in 1972, and was one of the pioneers in the video game industry. One of the company’s early employees was Steve Jobs, who was hired to work on the game design for the arcade game “Breakout”. Jobs was tasked with reducing the number of chips needed for the game and he recruited his friend, Steve Wozniak, to help with the project. Wozniak designed a circuit board that used only 46 chips, a significant improvement over the original design that had over 100 chips.

60 Boy’s name in a #1 Beatles hit : JUDE

“Hey Jude” was originally a song titled “Hey Jules” written by Paul McCartney. He wrote the original song for John Lennon’s son Julian, in an attempt to comfort the boy during his parents’ divorce. There’s a phenomenal coda in “Hey Jude” after the fourth verse that lasts for over four minutes.

63 Sharif who played the title role in “Doctor Zhivago” : OMAR

Omar Sharif was a great Hollywood actor from Egypt, someone who played major roles in memorable movies such as “Doctor Zhivago” and “Lawrence of Arabia”. But to me, he was my bridge hero (referring to the card game). In his heyday, Sharif was one of the best bridge players in the world.

“Doctor Zhivago” is an epic novel by Boris Pasternak that was first published in 1957. I haven’t tried to read the book, but the 1965 film version is a must-see, directed by David Lean and starring Omar Sharif in the title role. The story centers on Yuri Zhivago, a doctor and poet, and how he is affected by the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War.

64 Dummkopf : MORON

The unsavory word “moron” was formerly used by the medical community to describe someone with a degree of mental retardation. The term comes from the Greek “moros” meaning “foolish, dull”. Back in the early 1900s, IQ tests were used to classify those suffering from mental retardation into categories:

  • “idiot” … IQ of 0-20
  • “imbecile” … IQ of 21-50
  • “moron” …IQ of 51-70

“Dummkopf” is a German word that translates literally as “dumb head”.

65 Biblical figure who is compared to “a hairy garment” : ESAU

Esau was the grandson of Abraham and the twin brother of Jacob, the founder of the Israelites. When Esau was born to Isaac and Rebekah, the event was described with “Now the first came forth, red all over like a hairy garment”. Esau is portrayed later in life as being very different from his brother Jacob, as a hunter and someone who loves the outdoor life.

67 Cardiologist’s tool : STENT

In the world of surgical medicine, a stent is an artificial tube inserted inside a vessel in the body, say an artery, in order to reduce the effects of a local restriction in the body’s conduit.

Down

1 Smoothly, in music : LEGATO

Staccato (stac.) is a musical direction signifying that notes should be played in a disconnected form. The opposite of staccato would be legato, indicating long and continuous notes played very smoothly.

6 Preference for an audiophile : HI-FI

Hi-fi systems were introduced in the late 1940s. They are pieces of audio equipment designed to give a much higher quality reproduction of sound than cheaper systems available up to that point. “Hi-fi” stands for “high fidelity”.

8 Collection of traits necessary for “the achievement of great things,” as theorized by Machiavelli : VIRTU

“Virtu” are objects of art or curios. The same term is used to describe an interest in and knowledge of such objects. The term comes from the Latin “virtus” meaning “virtue, goodness, manliness”. The idea is that “virtu” is an appreciation for the “goodness” of such art.

Italian diplomat and philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli lived during the Renaissance. His name is associated with the principle of using deception, treachery and crime in order to achieve a beneficial outcome. Such behavior is routinely described today as “Machiavellian”.

10 1960s-’70s archetype : HIPPIE

The term “hip” is a slang term that was used in the 1930s and 1940s to mean “cool, informed about the latest ideas and styles”. By the end of the 1940s, “hipsters” were “hip” people, jazz aficionados, and people who adopted the perceived lifestyle of jazz musicians of the day. In the 1960s, the term “hippie” developed from “hipster”, to describe a member of the youth counterculture that emerged in the US.

11 Italian Alpine cheese : ASIAGO

Asiago is a cheese that is named for the region in northeastern Italy from where it originates. It comes in varying textures depending on its age. Fresh Asiago is very smooth, while aged Asiago can be very crumbly.

12 What one might say when the coast is clear? : LAND HO!

The cry of “land ho!” from a sailor means that land has just been spotted. A similar shout is “sail ho!”, indicating that another boat has been spotted.

24 Part of B.Y.O.B. : YOUR

Bring Your Own Beer/Bottle/Booze (BYOB)

26 Bit of golf attire : POLO

René Lacoste was a French tennis player who went into the clothing business, and came up with a more comfortable shirt that players could use. This became known as a “tennis shirt”. When it was adopted for use in the sport of polo, the shirts also became known as “polo shirts”. The “golf shirt” is basically the same thing. The Lacoste line of clothing features a crocodile logo, because René was nicknamed “The Crocodile”.

30 Comics read from right to left : MANGA

The Japanese word “manga” means “whimsical pictures” and is an apt term to describe the Japanese style of comic book. Manga publications are more diverse than American comic books and have a larger audience. Manga covers many subjects including romance, sports, business, horror, and mystery.

33 Some prestigious prizes : NOBELS

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist and businessman. Nobel is famous for the invention of dynamite during his lifetime, as well as for instituting the Nobel Prizes by providing the necessary funds in his will.

37 Baked ___ : ZITI

Cylindrical pasta is known in general as “penne”, and there are many variants. For example, ziti is a particularly large and long tube with square-cut ends. “Penne” is the plural of “penna”, the Italian for “feather, quill”.

39 Largest food delivery company in the U.S. : DOORDASH

DoorDash is the largest food delivery company in the country. Customers can order food from many different restaurants using the DoorDash app, and a DoorDash driver delivers it to a home or office. DoorDash also operates ghost kitchens, facilities that prepare meals for delivery customers of a group of restaurants.

42 Seven-night holiday : KWANZAA

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African heritage that lasts from December 26 to January 1 annually. The holiday was introduced in 1966 as an alternative to the existing holidays at the end of the year. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”. The seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to seven core principles known as “Nguzo Saba”.

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

43 The “key of glory,” in the Baroque period : D MAJOR

Something described as baroque is extremely ornate and convoluted. The term comes from the Baroque Period of the early 17th to mid-18th century. Many of the arts focused on great detail and elaborate design during that time.

48 Judy Garland, to Liza Minnelli : PARENT

Actress Judy Garland’s real name was Frances Gumm. Garland was respected and loved both within and without the entertainment industry. She was the youngest recipient, at 39 years old, of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry.

Actress and singer Liza Minnelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and movie director Vincente Minnelli. Liza won her only Oscar for her lead performance in 1972’s “Cabaret”. She has also won an Emmy, Grammy and Tony, and is one of the very few entertainers to have made that “sweep”.

52 Deck with the Major and Minor Arcana : TAROT

In a 78-card tarot deck, the picture cards are referred to as the Major Arcana. The remaining cards are known as the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana included The Fool, the Wheel of Fortune, the Hanged Man, and Death.

54 Flair of wrestling : RIC

Wrestler Ric Flair’s real name is Richard Fliehr. Perhaps following the lead of his compatriot Jesse Ventura, Flair explored the possibility of running for governor of the state of North Carolina.

58 Stratford’s river : AVON

Stratford-upon-Avon is a town in the county of Warwickshire in the English midlands. Most famously perhaps, it was the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Noble title : LADY
5 Deity from whose hair flows the river Ganga : SHIVA
10 “Hold it right there!” : HALT!
14 Dublin’s land : EIRE
15 Like a mouse : TIMID
16 “You don’t need to tell me” : I SAW
17 “That 1978 musical? Amazing movie!” : GREASE? FIRE!
19 Long (for) : PINE
20 ___ moment : AHA
21 Sully : TAINT
22 One in a black suit : SPADE
23 Thai hot-and-sour soup : TOM YUM
25 “That 2009 Pixar film? Incredibly well made!” : UP? TIGHT!
27 Thereabouts : OR SO
28 ___ Kippur : YOM
31 Cereal with a Mega Stuf version : OREO O’S
32 Life or death, e.g. : NOUN
34 Coelho who wrote “The Alchemist” : PAULO
36 “That 2013 Disney movie? Pretty decent!” : FROZEN? SOLID!
40 Experience four seasons in one day, say? : BINGE
41 “Here’s the thing …” : LOOK …
43 Complete collection, say : DVD SET
47 Menace in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” : ASP
49 Blows away : WOWS
51 “That 2009 science fiction flick? Freaking epic!” : MOON? LIT!
53 Biblical mount : ARARAT
55 Plants used in skin care products : ALOES
56 Early employer of Steve Jobs : ATARI
59 It’s what makes you you : DNA
60 Boy’s name in a #1 Beatles hit : JUDE
61 “That 2011 neo-noir? Insanely good!” : DRIVE? CRAZY!
63 Sharif who played the title role in “Doctor Zhivago” : OMAR
64 Dummkopf : MORON
65 Biblical figure who is compared to “a hairy garment” : ESAU
66 Some wines : REDS
67 Cardiologist’s tool : STENT
68 Fellow : CHAP

Down

1 Smoothly, in music : LEGATO
2 Noisemaker often heard after a touchdown : AIR HORN
3 Aspires to : DREAMS OF
4 Pro choice? : YEA
5 R-rated, in a way : STEAMY
6 Preference for an audiophile : HI-FI
7 “Let’s do this thing!” : I’M IN!
8 Collection of traits necessary for “the achievement of great things,” as theorized by Machiavelli : VIRTU
9 Suffix with lemon or lime : -ADE
10 1960s-’70s archetype : HIPPIE
11 Italian Alpine cheese : ASIAGO
12 What one might say when the coast is clear? : LAND HO!
13 Responsibility for a social media manager : TWEETS
18 Nickname found in consecutive letters of the alphabet : STU
22 It’s usually taken outside : STROLL
24 Part of B.Y.O.B. : YOUR
26 Bit of golf attire : POLO
29 Tap, as an app : OPEN
30 Comics read from right to left : MANGA
33 Some prestigious prizes : NOBELS
35 Functions : USES
37 Baked ___ : ZITI
38 Where more pigs live than people : IOWA
39 Largest food delivery company in the U.S. : DOORDASH
42 Seven-night holiday : KWANZAA
43 The “key of glory,” in the Baroque period : D MAJOR
44 Body, for hair : VOLUME
45 Thingamajig : DOODAD
46 Sinister smiles : SNEERS
48 Judy Garland, to Liza Minnelli : PARENT
50 What many children are told not to do on Christmas Eve, but encouraged to do on New Year’s Eve : STAY UP
52 Deck with the Major and Minor Arcana : TAROT
54 Flair of wrestling : RIC
57 Part of a makeshift swing : TIRE
58 Stratford’s river : AVON
61 Private chats on social media, for short : DMS
62 Abbreviation often accompanied by a red dot : REC

7 thoughts on “1228-23 NY Times Crossword 28 Dec 23, Thursday”

  1. 17:03, no errors. Some of the “synonyms” of fantastic used in this puzzle weren’t exactly tip-of-the-tongue usages for me. But … AWTEW … 🙂.

  2. 19:35, no errors. Just happy to finish this one. As I get older, I find that I would rather rewatch a favorite old movie than watch a new movie. Makes it increasingly difficult to keep up with crossword references.

    1. Or, you could watch the seemingly endless stream of remakes and rehashes of remakes and rehashes of….. You might think that we have run out of actual screenwriters.

      Coming soon, the 16th remake of King Kong.

  3. 27:42. I’ll use jet lag as an excuse whether it’s true or not. Bottom of this went fast, but the top third gave me fits.

    Clever theme, just not my cup of tea. With regards to movies: What Bruce said.

    Finally got home after midnight Pacific time. A 10 and a half hour delay, a 5 hour flight, then we couldn’t deplane right away because one of the passengers passed out and paramedics had to come get him. Then it took forever to get our bags. This well forever be fondly remembered as the trip from hell.

    Next time I travel for the holidays should be sometime in the middle of NEVER.

    Best –

  4. No errors but it was an theme.
    Not sure I understand the context or wisdom of associating a movie with a synonym other than “because you can”?

  5. No errors…like Dave I got 2 of the theme answers but the rest sounded made up to me or I’m just an old man without much of a “new age” vocabulary.
    Stay safe😀

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