1215-18 NY Times Crossword 15 Dec 18, Saturday

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Constructed by: Erik Agard
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 12s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Athlete with the 1999 guide “Go for the Goal” : HAMM

Mia Hamm is a retired American soccer player, a forward who played on the US national team that won the FIFA women’s World Cup in 1991. Hamm has scored 158 international goals, more than other player in the world, male or female. Amazingly, Hamm was born with a clubfoot, and so had to wear corrective shoes when she was growing up.

15. Cream alternative : ECRU

The shade ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

16. What might precede a parachute jump : HESITATION

The term “parachute” was coined by Frenchman François Blanchard, from “para-” meaning “defense against” and “chute” meaning “a fall”.

21. River with Victoria Falls : ZAMBEZI

The Zambezi is the largest African river flowing into the Indian Ocean, and the fourth-longest river on the continent. The most famous spot along the Zambezi is Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River, right on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The falls were named by Scottish explorer David Livingstone in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain. Victoria Falls isn’t the highest waterfall in the world, nor is it the widest. However, the total “area” of the sheet of falling water is the largest in the world, so it is usually recognized as the largest waterfall on the planet.

23. Wave function symbol in quantum mechanics : PSI

A wave function in quantum mechanics is usually denoted with the Greek letter psi. A wave function is a mathematical function that describes the quantum state of a particle and how it behaves.

24. Having someone’s thoughts in mind? : ESP

Extrasensory perception (ESP)

25. Revolving toy : SIT ‘N SPIN

The toy called a Sit ‘n Spin was made by Kenner toys. It consisted of two circular discs, one on top of the other. One disc is the base of the toy that sits on the ground, and a child sits on the second disc … and spins …

30. 1988 security guard comedy : RENT-A-COP

“Rent-a-Cop” is a 1988 movie starring Burt Reynolds and Liza Minnelli. Minnelli plays a prostitute who falls in love with a security guard and one-time police officer, who is played by Reynolds. Interestingly, even though the storyline is set in Chicago, most of the filming was done in Italy. “Rent-a-Cop” wasn’t received well by the critics and both lead actors ended up that years as nominees for a Golden Raspberry Award.

33. Stimulate : GOOSE

To goose is to prod into action, albeit a little rudely. A “goose” is a prod or a pinch in the rear end.

34. Prefix with god : DEMI-

In Greek mythology, a demigod was a half-god, the offspring of one parent who was a god and one parent who was human. The list of demigods includes the Greek hero Heracles and the Celtic hero Cú Chulainn.

35. Jazzman Earl : HINES

Earl “Fatha” Hines is considered one of the greats in the history of jazz. Hines played his piano twice at the White House, and once even played solo for the Pope.

37. Cardinal point? : CLAW

Cardinal red is a vivid shade that takes its name from the cassocks and hats worn by Roman Catholic cardinals. The bird known as a cardinal takes its name from the color.

55. Product with six fruity flavors : TRIX

Trix is a corn-based breakfast cereal that has been around since 1954, produced by General Mills. Ads for the cereal featured Trix Rabbit, who would try hard to get hold of bowls of the cereal. He would always get caught though, and be admonished with, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!” With 46% sugar content, the rabbit probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway …

56. #1 hit for the Jackson 5 and Mariah Carey : I’LL BE THERE

“I’ll Be There” was a chart topper for the Jackson 5 in 1970. Mariah Carey recorded a cover version in 1992 as a duet with Trey Lorenz. Carey and Lorenz sang the song as a tribute at Michael Jackson’s memorial service in 2009.

The Jackson 5 singing group was originally made up of brothers Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The four eldest brothers continued to perform, using the name “The Jacksons”, after Michael went solo.

Mariah Carey produced her first album in 1990 under the guidance of Tommy Mottola, an executive at Columbia Records. Mottola and Carey must have hit it off, because they were married three years later (although Mottola is now married to a different singer …).

57. Role for Hugh O’Brian on TV and Kevin Costner in film : EARP

The legendary Western gunfighter and lawman Wyatt Earp has been portrayed on the big and small screen many, many times. Kevin Costner played the title role in 1994’s “Wyatt Earp”, and Val Kilmer played Earp in 2012’s “The First Ride of Wyatt Earp”. Joel McCrea had the part in 1955’s “Wichita”, and Kurt Russell was Earp in 1993’s “Tombstone”. James Garner played Earp twice, in 1967’s “Hour of the Gun” and 1988’s “Sunset”.

59. Shade akin to cerulean : AQUA

Cerulean is a blue color, with the name probably coming from the Latin “caeruleus” meaning “blue”.

Down

1. Bandwidth unit : HERTZ

The unit of frequency measure is the hertz (Hz). It is the number of cycles per second of a periodic phenomenon. The unit is named for Heinrich Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves.

2. Maker of the MDX and RDX : ACURA

Acura is the luxury brand of the Honda Motor Company. As an aside, Infiniti is the equivalent luxury brand for the Nissan Motor Company, and Lexus is the more luxurious version of Toyota’s models.

3. 1983 comedy/drama about a stay-at-home dad : MR MOM

“Mr. Mom” is a 1983 comedy written by John Hughes and starring Michael Keaton and the great Teri Garr. The movie is all about an engineer in the auto industry in Detroit who loses his job and then takes over the running of the household while his wife heads back to work. It’s funny stuff …

5. Arguing with God, for example : CHUTZPAH

Our word “chutzpah” meaning “nerve, gall, impudence” is derived from the Yiddish “khutspe”, which has the same meaning.

7. ___-approved : USDA

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) actually dates back to 1862 when it was established by then-president Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln referred to the USDA as the “people’s department” as our economy had such a vast agrarian base back then.

8. Sort who entices others to follow : PIED PIPER

The legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin dates back to medieval times. Recently there have been suggestions that the story is rooted in some truth, that the town of Hamelin did in fact lose many of its children, perhaps to plague. The suggestion is that the tale is an allegory. The use of the word “pied” implies that the piper dressed in multi-colored clothing.

13. Swindle : ROOK

To rook is to cheat. The earlier use of “rook” as a noun was as a disparaging term for a swindler or cheat. Somehow, it was insulting to refer to a person as a rook, as in the type of bird.

22. Attendance abbr. : EST

Estimate (est.)

25. One method of locating schools : SONAR

Those would be schools of fish.

26. United, e.g. : SOCCER TEAM

Soccer (also known as “association football”) is the most popular sport in the world. The term “association football” was introduced in 1863 in England, with the name chosen to distinguish the sport from rugby football. The term “soccer” started to appear about 20 years later in Oxford, as an abbreviation for “association”.

27. Apt surname for an acupuncturist? : POLK

Acupressure and acupuncture are related alternative medical techniques. Both aim to clear blockages in the flow of life energy through the body’s meridians. The treatment is given by stimulating “acupoints’ in the body, by applying pressure in the case of acupressure, and by applying needles in the case of acupuncture.

28. “By Jove!” : I SAY!

“By Jove” is a mild oath that calls on the Roman god Jove, who was also known as Jupiter.

30. Setting of a 2000s Comedy Central police show : RENO

“Reno 911!” is what nowadays is called a “mockumentary”, a documentary-style comedy that parodies the television show “COPS”. I am afraid I don’t watch either TV program … not my cup of tea.

36. Some Winter Olympians : SLEDDERS

Bobsleds are so called because competitors in the sport originally would “bob” in and out of the sled in order to increase its speed.

39. Nickname of Doménikos Theotokópoulos : EL GRECO

El Greco (“the Greek”, in Spanish) was the nickname of the artist whose real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos. El Greco was born in Crete in 1541, and moved to Venice to study art when he was in his early twenties. A few years later he moved to the city of Toledo in central Spain, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.

41. Political designation: Abbr. : IND

Independent (Ind)

43. Nova Scotia’s Cape ___ Island : BRETON

Cape Breton is a headland, and is the easternmost extremity of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.

46. Crop deity : CERES

In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

48. Mono, e.g. : VIRUS

Mononucleosis is a viral disease that is also known as “glandular fever”, or simply “mono”. The virus that causes the disease can only be contracted through direct exposure to infected saliva. As a result, mono is often called “the kissing disease”.

49. Overseas worker, perhaps : EXPAT

Expatriate (expat)

51. Nickname for Ulysses : ULEE

“Ulee’s Gold” is a highly respected film from 1997 in which Peter Fonda plays the title role of Ulee. Ulee’s “gold” is the honey that Ulysses “Ulee” Jackson produces. It is a favorite role for Peter Fonda and he has shared that playing Ulee brought to mind his father Henry Fonda, who himself kept a couple of hives. So if you see Peter Fonda in “Ulee’s Gold” you’re witnessing some characteristics that Peter saw in his father.

53. Some 58-Across contents, in brief : PBRS
(58A. Tailgaters’ tote : BEER COOLER)

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is the most recognizable brand of beer from the Pabst Brewing Company. There appears to be some dispute over whether or not Pabst beer ever won a “blue ribbon” prize, but the company claims that it did so at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The beer was originally called Pabst Best Select, and then just Pabst Select. With the renaming to Blue Ribbon, the beer was sold with an actual blue ribbon tied around the neck of the bottle until it was dropped in 1916 and incorporated into the label.

54. Ward with many awards : SELA

The actress Sela Ward turns up in crosswords a lot. Ward played Teddy Reed in the TV show “Sisters” in the nineties, and was in “Once and Again” from 1999-2002. I don’t know either show, but I do know Ward from the medical drama “House” in which she played the hospital’s lawyer and Greg House’s ex-partner. That was a fun role, I thought. More recently, Ward played a lead role on “CSI: NY” and was a very welcome and much-needed addition to the cast. And, Ward played Dr. Richard Kimble’s murdered wife in the 1993 film version of “The Fugitive”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Athlete with the 1999 guide “Go for the Goal” : HAMM
5. Folklore monster whose name means “goat-sucker” : CHUPACABRA
15. Cream alternative : ECRU
16. What might precede a parachute jump : HESITATION
17. Captain Morgan and Admiral Nelson’s : RUMS
18. “I got you” : UNDERSTOOD
19. Dog jog : TROT
20. Attempts to remove some barriers : TRADE TALKS
21. River with Victoria Falls : ZAMBEZI
23. Wave function symbol in quantum mechanics : PSI
24. Having someone’s thoughts in mind? : ESP
25. Revolving toy : SIT ‘N SPIN
30. 1988 security guard comedy : RENT-A-COP
33. Stimulate : GOOSE
34. Prefix with god : DEMI-
35. Jazzman Earl : HINES
37. Cardinal point? : CLAW
38. Put away for later : ON ICE
40. Like agliata sauce : GARLICKY
42. Where you might go downstairs for drinks : HOTEL BAR
44. Dir. that’s also a suffix : ENE
45. [That makes me mad!] : GRR!
46. Program opening? : CD DRIVE
50. Didn’t think about : SUPPRESSED
55. Product with six fruity flavors : TRIX
56. #1 hit for the Jackson 5 and Mariah Carey : I’LL BE THERE
57. Role for Hugh O’Brian on TV and Kevin Costner in film : EARP
58. Tailgaters’ tote : BEER COOLER
59. Shade akin to cerulean : AQUA
60. Enthusiast’s purchase : SEASON PASS
61. Wet cloud : MIST

Down

1. Bandwidth unit : HERTZ
2. Maker of the MDX and RDX : ACURA
3. 1983 comedy/drama about a stay-at-home dad : MR MOM
4. Remark of envy : MUST BE NICE
5. Arguing with God, for example : CHUTZPAH
6. One of several French kings : HENRI
7. ___-approved : USDA
8. Sort who entices others to follow : PIED PIPER
9. Still : AT REST
10. Assigning stars to? : CASTING
11. Congratulatory start : ATTA …
12. Science subj. : BIOL
13. Swindle : ROOK
14. Connectors : ANDS
22. Attendance abbr. : EST
25. One method of locating schools : SONAR
26. United, e.g. : SOCCER TEAM
27. Apt surname for an acupuncturist? : POLK
28. “By Jove!” : I SAY!
29. “What’s ___?” : NEW
30. Setting of a 2000s Comedy Central police show : RENO
31. Let off : EMIT
32. Locale for Cubans : CIGAR SHOP
34. “Silly me!” : DOH!
36. Some Winter Olympians : SLEDDERS
39. Nickname of Doménikos Theotokópoulos : EL GRECO
41. Political designation: Abbr. : IND
43. Nova Scotia’s Cape ___ Island : BRETON
46. Crop deity : CERES
47. Operation Red Dawn defender : IRAQI
48. Mono, e.g. : VIRUS
49. Overseas worker, perhaps : EXPAT
50. Some family folks, informally : SIBS
51. Nickname for Ulysses : ULEE
52. Entered response : PLEA
53. Some 58-Across contents, in brief : PBRS
54. Ward with many awards : SELA