1229-23 NY Times Crossword 29 Dec 23, Friday

Constructed by: Robyn Weintraub
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 11m 49s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Actress Rae who played President Barbie in “Barbie” : ISSA

Issa Rae is a Stanford University graduate who created a YouTube web series called “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl”. Rae also plays the title role in the series, a young lady named “J”. “Awkward Black Girl” was adapted into an HBO comedy-drama called “Insecure”, in which Issa Rae stars.

The 2023 fantasy comedy movie “Barbie” stars Margo Robbie in the title role and Ryan Gosling as Ken. It was directed by Greta Gerwig, who also co-wrote the script with her partner Noah Baumbach. I highly recommend this one …

9 Soapstone mineral : TALC

The metamorphic rock known as soapstone or steatite has a myriad of uses, largely because it is relatively soft. It feels quite soapy to the touch, hence the name “soapstone”. It can be used for making countertops, or as a medium for artistic and decorative carving. It’s also used by tailors as a marking tool on cloth.

16 Sierra follower : TANGO

The NATO phonetic alphabet is also called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. Alfa, Bravo, Charlie … X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

17 Tacky item in a kindergarten classroom : GLUE STICK

“Kindergarten” is a German term, one translated as “children’s garden”. The term was coined by the German education authority Friedrich Fröbel in 1837, when he used it as the name for his play and activity institute that he created for young children to use before they headed off to school. His thought was that children should be nourished educationally, like plants in a garden.

23 Tour group, in brief : PGA

The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) was founded in 1916 and today has its headquarters (unsurprisingly) in Florida, where so many golfers live. Back in 1916, the PGA was based in New York City.

25 Descendents of Abraham and Ishmael : ARABS

Abraham is a prominent figure in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. He was descended from Noah and was the “father” of many tribes, including the Israelites and Ishmaelites. In the Christian tradition Jesus was a descendant of Abraham through the Israelite tribe, and in the Muslim tradition Muhammad was a descendant of Abraham through the Ishmaelite tribe.

27 Part of Cruella de Vil’s get-up : FUR COAT

Cruella de Vil is the villain in the 1956 novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” written by Dodie Smith. Most famously perhaps, Cruella was played so ably by Glenn Close in the Disney movie adaption “101 Dalmatians”, released in 1996.

32 ___ Planet (travel guidebook series) : LONELY

“Lonely Planet” is a publisher of a very successful series of travel guide books. The company was founded by British couple Tony and Maureen Wheeler in 1972. Their first publication was “Across Asia on the Cheap”, which was issued as a stapled booklet.

34 Theme of Adele’s “Someone Like You” : LOST LOVE

“Someone Like You” is a 2001 Adele song that was the artist’s first number-one hit in her home country, the UK. It’s about a boyfriend who broke up with her.

35 Many a Coral Sea island : ATOLL

An atoll is a coral island that is shaped in a ring that encloses a lagoon. There is still some debate as to how an atoll forms, but a theory proposed by Charles Darwin while on his famous voyage aboard HMS Beagle still holds sway. Basically, an atoll was once a volcanic island that had subsided and fallen into the sea. The coastline of the island is home to coral growth which persists even as the island continues to subside inside the circling coral reef.

The Coral Sea is part of the South Pacific Ocean lying off the northeast coast of Australia. It is home to the renowned Great Barrier Reef.

36 Something in a gondola’s forcola : OAR

The word “gondola” was originally limited to the famous boats that travel along the canals of Venice. When man started to fly through the air in hot air balloons, “gondola” was used for the basket in which the passenger(s) traveled. By extension, the structure carrying passengers and crew under an airship is also called a gondola, as are the cars suspended from a cable at a ski resort.

43 Calculation that might include calculus, for short : GPA

Grade point average (GPA)

44 Mo. when Paul Revere rode : APR

Paul Revere is famous for having alerted the Colonial militia when the British military arrived in the build up to the battles of Lexington and Concord. Revere earned his living as a silversmith. After the war, Revere returned to his trade and diversified into other metalwork. Revere was the first American to develop a process to roll copper into sheets so that the metal could be used to sheathe the hulls of naval vessels.

45 Role in “Evita” : CHE

Che is the narrator in the musical “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

48 Like the Gwyndodeg and Powyseg dialects : WELSH

The Welsh language is a Celtic tongue that is known as “Cymraeg” by its native speakers. The country of Wales is known as “Cymru” in Welsh.

57 View from the Trans-Siberian Railway : URALS

The Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) connects Moscow to the Russian Far East. At almost 6,000 miles in length, it is the longest railway line in the world. Although it is still being expanded today, the bulk of the track was laid between 1891 and 1916 at the behest of Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II. Branches of the TSR connect Russia to Mongolia, China and North Korea.

61 Casualty of a 1917 revolution : TSAR

The year 1917 saw two revolutions in Russia, with the pair collectively called “the Russian Revolution”. As a result of the February Revolution that centered on Petrograd, the last Emperor of Russia (Tsar Nicholas II) abdicated and members of the Imperial parliament took control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. The Provisional Government was itself overthrown in the October Revolution, which was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party.

Down

1 Florida’s ___ National Forest : OCALA

Ocala National Forest is a large protected area covering over 600 square miles of Central Florida. Included in the bounds of the forest is the US Navy’s Pinecastle Bombing Range. Navy planes drop about 20,000 bombs annually at Pinecastle, although only a few hundred are live munitions.

5 Pricey bars : INGOTS

Gold or silver bullion is in the metal form, usually in ingots, rather than in coins.

7 Help out on the campaign trail : STUMP FOR

“To stump” can mean “to go on a speaking tour during a political campaign”. This peculiarly American term dates back to the 19th century. Back then, a stump speech was an address given by someone standing on a large tree stump that provided a convenient perch to help the speaker get his or her message across to the crowd.

9 Attire for many a Degas subject : TUTU

The word “tutu”, used for a ballet dancer’s skirt, is actually a somewhat “naughty” term. It came into English from French in the early 20th century. The French “tutu” is an alteration of the word “cucu”, a childish word meaning “bottom, backside”.

12 Cuba libre ingredient : COKE

The Cuba libre cocktail was created during the Spanish-American War. American soldiers, stationed in Cuba, mixed Coca-Cola with Cuban rum and added a squeeze of lime to create a refreshing drink. The name “Cuba libre” translates to “free Cuba,” which became a popular slogan during the war as the United States supported Cuban independence from Spanish rule.

13 Mélange : STEW

“Mélange” is the French word for “mixture”.

15 Trashy television character? : OSCAR THE GROUCH

Oscar the Grouch is the Muppet who lives in a garbage can. Oscar’s persona comes from various sources. He is named after Oscar Brand who was one of the board members of the Children’s Television Workshop, the backers for “Sesame Street” as the Muppets were being developed in the sixties. Oscar’s personality was inspired by an angry waiter that once served Jim Henson (father of the Muppets). The voice was modeled on a grumpy New York cab driver encountered one day by Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who brings Oscar to life.

24 Theater cat in “Cats” : GUS

“Gus: The Theatre Cat” is a poem that T. S. Eliot included in his “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Magic”, which was the source material for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats”. Gus is a nickname, short for Asparagus.

28 Commit a fashion faux pas : CLASH

The term “faux pas” is French in origin, and translates literally as “false step” (or “false steps”, as the plural has the same spelling in French).

31 LSAT section? : TEST

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

33 Miranda who played Éowyn in “The Lord of the Rings” : OTTO

Miranda Otto is an actress from Brisbane, Australia. Perhaps most notably, she played Éowyn in “The Lord of the Rings” series of films. I remember her playing the wife of the Tom Cruise character in the 2005 film “War of the Worlds”. She also played a pivotal role in several episodes of the excellent espionage thriller TV series “Homeland”, portraying the chief of the CIA’s Berlin Station (and double agent … spoiler!).

34 It’s not long. : LAT

Lines of latitude are imaginary horizontal lines surrounding the planet. The most “important” lines of latitude are, from north to south:

  • Arctic Circle
  • Tropic of Cancer
  • Equator
  • Tropic of Capricorn
  • Antarctic Circle

36 Foil to Mark Antony in “Julius Caesar” : OCTAVIUS

Gaius Octavius Thurinus (often called “Octavian”) was the adopted son of Gaius Julius Caesar. After Julius Caesar was assassinated, Octavian came to power in Rome and teamed up with Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in what was called the Second Triumvirate. When the triumvirate fell apart, especially after Antony’s defeat at Actium, Octavian became more powerful within the Roman Republic. Several years later he wrested sufficient power from the Roman Senate to end the Republic and begin the Roman Empire. As the first Emperor of Rome, Octavian was given the name Caesar Augustus. The month of August, originally called “Sextilis” in Latin, was renamed in honor of Augustus.

William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar” is a little unusual, in that Julius Caesar is not the main character. The protagonist is actually Marcus Brutus, who plays a major role in Caesar’s assassination.

39 Member of the family Viperidae : ASP

The Viperidae are a family of venomous snakes commonly referred to as vipers.

47 Online retailer headquartered in Brooklyn : ETSY

Etsy.com was founded in 2005 as a way for artists and craftspeople to sell their handmade goods online, and has since grown to include vintage items and crafting supplies as well. The company’s name is derived from the Italian word “etsi,” which means “oh, yes”? This was a nod to founder Rob Kalin’s love of Italy and his appreciation for the country’s history and artistry.

49 Gouda alternative : EDAM

Gouda is a cheese that originated in the Dutch city of the same name, although today Gouda is produced all over the world and very little of it comes from the Netherlands. Gouda is often smoke-cured, which gives it a yellowish-brown outer skin and that characteristic smoky taste.

50 Bananas : LOCO

In Spanish, if one isn’t “sano” (sane) one might be described as “loco” (crazy).

The expression “to go bananas”, meaning “to become excited or angry”, is one that I would have imagined had a clear etymology but that doesn’t seem to be the case. A further surprise is that we’ve only been “going bananas” since the sixties, the days of flower power. One apt theory about the hippy roots of the phrase is that there was an unfounded belief that ingesting roasted banana peels had a similar hallucinogenic effect as magic mushrooms.

51 Lock lips, to a Liverpudlian : SNOG

Liverpool is a large port city in the northwest of England located on the estuary of the River Mersey. With a sense of humor that is typical of the area, people from Liverpool are often called “Liverpudlians”. The term comes from the jocular “Liver-puddle”, a diminutive of “Liver-pool”.

53 People who worshiped the fertility goddess Pachamama : INCA

Pachamama is a goddess worshiped by indigenous peoples in the Andes of South America. “Pachamama” translates best as “Mother World” and embraces the whole universe as opposed to just the Earth.

54 “Red, White & ___” (2005 heavy metal album) : CRUE

Mötley Crüe is an American rock band from Los Angeles. They’ve been around since 1981, co-founded by the famous drummer Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee is also known for his two celebrated marriages, the first with Heather Locklear and the second with Pamela Anderson. The name “Mötley Crüe” was chosen as someone once described the band members as a “motley looking crew”. The spelling was made to look a little more exotic, with the umlauts added over the “o” and “u” one day, as the band were drinking bottles of “Löwenbräu” beer!

56 Dojo surface : MAT

The Japanese word “dojo” translates literally as “place of the way”. Originally the term applied to training halls that were found in or beside temples. The teaching in a dojo was not limited to the martial arts, but in the Western world we use the dojo as the name for a training facility for judo, karate and the like.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Has balance issues : OWES
5 Actress Rae who played President Barbie in “Barbie” : ISSA
9 Soapstone mineral : TALC
13 Contempt : SCORN
14 “Seriously? I guess I’m the only remaining holdout then” : NOT YOU TOO
16 Sierra follower : TANGO
17 Tacky item in a kindergarten classroom : GLUE STICK
18 What one might hope for in a tight spot : ELBOW ROOM
20 Pie accompaniment? : CUTIE …
21 Approach : WAY
22 Signal for a change in direction? : BUT
23 Tour group, in brief : PGA
25 Descendents of Abraham and Ishmael : ARABS
27 Part of Cruella de Vil’s get-up : FUR COAT
32 ___ Planet (travel guidebook series) : LONELY
34 Theme of Adele’s “Someone Like You” : LOST LOVE
35 Many a Coral Sea island : ATOLL
36 Something in a gondola’s forcola : OAR
37 Mists : HAZES
38 “For real!” : IT’S A FACT!
40 Remove surgically : RESECT
41 Word on a common bumper sticker : COEXIST
42 Sounds of relief : SIGHS
43 Calculation that might include calculus, for short : GPA
44 Mo. when Paul Revere rode : APR
45 Role in “Evita” : CHE
48 Like the Gwyndodeg and Powyseg dialects : WELSH
52 Term largely replaced by “Zoom” : VIDEO CHAT
55 “No problem at all” : I DON’T MIND
57 View from the Trans-Siberian Railway : URALS
58 Tex-Mex condiment : TACO SAUCE
59 Like some parsley and kale : CURLY
60 Air quality index factor : SMOG
61 Casualty of a 1917 revolution : TSAR
62 Fixes a border, in a way : HEMS

Down

1 Florida’s ___ National Forest : OCALA
2 Just eked it out : WON BY A NOSE
3 Hence : ERGO
4 Cold war aggressions? : SNOWBALL FIGHTS
5 Pricey bars : INGOTS
6 Flying ___ : SOLO
7 Help out on the campaign trail : STUMP FOR
8 Consent from a mate : AYE
9 Attire for many a Degas subject : TUTU
10 “Keep ___!” : AT IT
11 Geometric points : LOCI
12 Cuba libre ingredient : COKE
13 Mélange : STEW
15 Trashy television character? : OSCAR THE GROUCH
19 Raspberry relative : RUBY
24 Theater cat in “Cats” : GUS
26 Enjoy a spa day, say : RELAX
28 Commit a fashion faux pas : CLASH
29 Acts exceedingly friendly : OOZES CHARM
30 French preposition : AVEC
31 LSAT section? : TEST
32 Like secular concerns : LAIC
33 Miranda who played Éowyn in “The Lord of the Rings” : OTTO
34 It’s not long. : LAT
36 Foil to Mark Antony in “Julius Caesar” : OCTAVIUS
39 Member of the family Viperidae : ASP
40 Ready, in a way : RIPE
42 Lower : SADDER
46 Campus buildings : HALLS
47 Online retailer headquartered in Brooklyn : ETSY
48 Match ___ : WITS
49 Gouda alternative : EDAM
50 Bananas : LOCO
51 Lock lips, to a Liverpudlian : SNOG
53 People who worshiped the fertility goddess Pachamama : INCA
54 “Red, White & ___” (2005 heavy metal album) : CRUE
56 Dojo surface : MAT

7 thoughts on “1229-23 NY Times Crossword 29 Dec 23, Friday”

  1. 25:08. Had a hard time getting started all over the place. Had to hunt and peck just to fill in a few letters at first.

    I was skeptical of that story of the origin of the Cuba libra as I wasn’t sure coke had been invented yet. Sure enough, COKE was invented in 1886 and the Spanish American War started in 1898. So COKE was a very young beverage at that point. FWIW Pepsi was invented as Brad’s Drink in 1893.

    Best –

  2. 11:19, no errors. Perhaps 40-Across could have been clued as “Song made popular by Are-ha Fran-lin”.

    (R-E-S! E-C-T! … 😉)

  3. 36:46 First pass resulted in two answers in the SE, then kept chipping away. Glad to even finish, just getting over 3 weeks of RSV and then food poisoning…rough month!

  4. No errors. Took longer.

    What am I missing on 41A?

    I’ve never seen or heard of COEXIST on a bumper sticker… especially a supposed “common” bumper sticker.

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