1222-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 22 Dec 2017, Friday

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Constructed by: Sam Trabucco
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: None

Bill’s time: 13m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Piece of equipment at a rock concert : GUITAR AMP

An electric guitar, for example, needs an amplifier (amp) to take the weak signal created by the vibration of the strings and turn it into a signal powerful enough for a loudspeaker.

10. Abba who was born “Aubrey” : EBAN

Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat and politician, born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban in Cape Town, South Africa. While working at the United Nations after WWII, Eban changed his given name to “Abba”, the Hebrew word for “father”. He made this change as reportedly as he could see himself as the father of the nation of Israel.

16. Bats : LOCO

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

The expression “bats in the belfry” meaning “mad, crazy” conjures up images of bats flying around Gothic bell towers, but actually it’s a relatively recent addition to our vernacular. The term is American in origin, and dates back only to the early 1900s. The concept is that someone who is “crazy”, with wild ideas flying around his or her head, can be described as having bats (wild ideas) flying around the belfry (head). The terms “bats” and “batty” originated at the same time, and are clearly derivative.

20. Composer Rachmaninoff : SERGEI

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian pianist and composer who was active in the late Romantic Era. Rachmaninoff emigrated from Russia in 1917, having been driven away by the Russian Revolution. He eventually settled in the US, where he toured as a pianist for many years. Rachmaninoff’s most famous works are probably his “Piano Concerto No. 1” and his “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini”.

24. Bazaar makeup : SHOPS

Our word “bazaar”, meaning “market”, comes from the Persian “bazar”, which means the same thing.

34. Went from place to place : GALLIVANTED

“Gallivant” is such a lovely word, and is probably a derivative of “gallant”. To gallivant is to gad about, to flirt, wander in search of pleasure or amusement. My mother was always accusing me of gallivanting when I was a youth …

37. Many cos. seek its approval : FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its roots in the Division of Chemistry (later “Bureau of Chemistry”) that was part of the US Department of Agriculture. President Theodore Roosevelt gave responsibility for examination of food and drugs to the Bureau of Chemistry with the signing of the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Bureau’s name was changed to the Food, Drug and Insecticide Organization in 1927, and to the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.

40. Children’s character who wears red-and-white stripes : WALDO

The reference is to the series of children’s illustrated books called “Where’s Waldo?” that were originally titled “Where’s Wally?” in Britain, where the books originated. The book contains page after page of illustrations with crowds of people surrounding famous landmarks from around the world. The challenge is to find Waldo/Wally, who is hidden in the crowd.

41. W.W. I battle site : YPRES

Ypres is a Belgian city located close to the French border. In WWI, Ypres was the scene of three devastating battles that resulted in almost a million casualties, including many who suffered in gas attacks.

50. Lee side? : REBS

Robert E. Lee was perhaps the most famous southern officer in the Civil War. Lee was a somewhat reluctant participant in the war in that he opposed the secession of his home state of Virginia from the Union. At the beginning of the war, President Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the whole Union Army but he declined, choosing instead to stay loyal to his home state. During the Civil War, Lee’s men referred to him affectionately as “Marse Robert”, with “marse” being slang for “master”.

54. Founder of Carthage, in myth : DIDO

Dido was the founder of Carthage, and the city’s first queen. Some sources use the name “Elissa” for the same person.

The Carthaginian Republic was centered on the city of Carthage, the ruins of which are located on the coast of modern-day Tunisia. The Latin name for the people of Carthage was “Afri”. When the Romans took over Carthage, they created a province they called “Africa”. That name extended over time to include the whole continent.

55. Spongy toy going up in popularity? : NERF ROCKET

Nerf is soft material used in a whole series of toys designed for “safe” play indoors. The Nerf product is used to make darts, balls and ammunition for toy guns. “NERF” is an acronym, standing for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam.

56. Big bunch : SLEW

Our usage of “slew” to mean “large number” has nothing to do with the verb “to slew”. The noun “slew” come into English in the early 1800s from the Irish word “sluagh” meaning “host, crowd, multitude”.

57. Low throw : SNAKE EYES

“Snake eyes” is the slang term for a roll of two dice in which one pip turns up on each die.

Down

4. H. P. Lovecraft output : TALES

H. P. Lovecraft was an author of horror, fantasy and science fiction. His books aren’t my cup of tea …

5. “Great” one in Africa : APE

The tailless primates known as apes are divided into two main branches: gibbons (lesser apes) and hominids (great apes). The hominids are the great apes, and belong to the family of primates called Hominidae. Extant genera that make up the family Hominidae are:

  • chimpanzees
  • gorillas
  • humans
  • orangutans

7. Grammy-winning artist India.___ : ARIE

India.Arie is an American soul and R&B singer who was born India Arie Simpson in Denver, Colorado.

9. Game with a 40-millimeter ball, informally : PONG

Ping-Pong is called table tennis in the UK, where the sport originated in the 1880s. Table tennis started as an after-dinner activity among the elite, and was called “wiff-waff”. To play the game, books were stacked in the center of a table as a “net”, two more books served as “”rackets” and the ball used was actually a golf ball. The game evolved over time with the rackets being upgraded to the lids of cigar boxes and the ball becoming a champagne cork (how snooty is that?). Eventually the game was produced commercially, and the sound of the ball hitting the racket was deemed to be a “ping” and a “pong”, giving the sport its alternative name. The name “Ping-Pong” was trademarked in Britain in 1901, and eventually sold to Parker Brothers in the US.

15. Homer’s beer supplier : MOE

The regulars on “The Simpsons” hang out at Moe’s Tavern, which is named for and run by Moe Szyslak. The most popular beer at Moe’s is Duff Beer. The name “Duff” is a reference to the real-life Duffy’s Tavern that used to be East 13th Street in Eugene, Oregon. “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening used to frequent Duffy’s regularly, and Moe’s looks very much like Duffy’s in terms of decor and floor plan.

28. Merchant Samuel who lent his name to a historic island : ELLIS

Ellis Island is an exclave of New York City that is geographically located within Jersey City, New Jersey. The name comes from a Samuel Ellis who owned the island around the time of the American Revolution. Ellis Island was the nation’s main immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954.

29. “I Fall to Pieces” singer : CLINE

Patsy Cline was a country music singer who managed to cross over into the world of pop music where she enjoyed great success. Cline is one of a long list of musical legends who died in plane crashes. Cline was 30 years old when she was killed in 1963 in a Piper Comanche plane piloted by her manager, Randy Hughes. Hughes and Cline decided to make that last flight despite warnings of inclement weather, and it was a severe storm that brought down the plane in a forest outside Camden, Tennessee.

“I Fall to Pieces” is a 1961 song released by Patsy Cline that was to become her first #1 hit in the country charts.

30. Words with cow or ball : HAVE A …

The phrase “don’t have a cow” originated in the fifties, as a variation of the older “don’t have kittens”. The concept behind the phrase is that one shouldn’t get worked up, it’s not like one is giving birth to a cow.

31. Screw over : SHAFT

“Shafted” isn’t a nice term at all. Someone who has been shafted has been given a raw deal. The term arose in the fifties, playing on the vulgar slang usage of shaft to represent the male organ (a usage that has been around since the early 1700s). The use of the verb “shaft” is a reference to sodomy. As I said, not nice …

32. Something ported at a portage : CANOE

The boat know 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”.

Portage is the carrying of a boat or its cargo over land, perhaps to circumvent an obstacle.

33. Like many a purchase weighed at a deli : TARED

Tare is the weight of a container that is deducted from the gross weight to determine the net weight, the weight of the container’s contents.

36. Grasslands : SWARDS

“Sward” is version of the word “swarth”, and describes a grassy piece of land.

38. Creditor, in financial jargon : DEBTEE

“Jargon” can mean nonsensical and meaningless talk, or the specialized language of a particular group, trade or profession. The term is Old French, with the more usual meaning of “a chattering”. How apt …

47. “Ol’ Man River” composer Jerome : KERN

Jerome Kern was truly a great in the world of theater music. He wrote so many classics, including “Ol’ Man River”, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man”, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “The Way You Look Tonight”.

“Ol’ Man River” is a wonderful song by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, from the musical “Show Boat”. The most famous performances of the song were by Paul Robeson, starting in 1938 when he appeared in a movie version of the stage show. Over the years Robeson changed the lyrics as he sang it at various recitals. The original words used a lot of racial epithets and stereotypical African American slang that he decided to change or omit.

48. Letters on old film boxes : AGFA

Agfa was founded in Germany in 1867 as a company focused on the manufacture of dyes. The full name of the enterprise was Aktiengesellschaft für Anilinfabrikation, shortened to Agfa, and translating as “Corporation for Aniline (a dye) Production”. Agfa merged with the Belgian company Gevaert in 1894, getting them into the photographic business. Agfa 35mm film hasn’t been produced for a few years now, but there is still inventory out there and purists are buying it when they can.

49. Duchess of ___ : YORK

Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew of the British Royal Family in 1986. On the occasion of the wedding, Andrew and Sarah were made Duke and Duchess of York. “Fergie” was in the news a few years ago when she was the target of a sting operation by a British tabloid newspaper. She was caught asking for 500,000 British pounds in order to help facilitate access to her ex-husband, Prince Andrew, and actually accepted 40,000 pounds in an envelope. After being exposed, Ferguson made the excuse that she had been drinking prior to soliciting the cash.

52. Do some diamond cutting? : MOW

That would be a baseball diamond.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Piece of equipment at a rock concert : GUITAR AMP
10. Abba who was born “Aubrey” : EBAN
14. Commitment you sometimes can’t get out of? : ESCAPE ROOM
16. Bats : LOCO
17. DC Comics supervillain group : THE LEGION OF DOOM
19. Celebrity : FAME
20. Composer Rachmaninoff : SERGEI
21. Coloration : HUE
22. “No bid” : I PASS
24. Bazaar makeup : SHOPS
26. Beauty mark? : TEN
27. Engineer training centers : TECH SCHOOLS
33. Major U.S. city with three pairs of double letters in its name : TALLAHASSEE
34. Went from place to place : GALLIVANTED
35. Plane fare : AIRLINE FOOD
36. One who copes by excessive snacking : STRESS-EATER
37. Many cos. seek its approval : FDA
40. Children’s character who wears red-and-white stripes : WALDO
41. W.W. I battle site : YPRES
43. “Black-ish” network : ABC
44. “Sure, I guess” : UH, OKAY
50. Lee side? : REBS
51. What opening offers often leave : ROOM TO NEGOTIATE
54. Founder of Carthage, in myth : DIDO
55. Spongy toy going up in popularity? : NERF ROCKET
56. Big bunch : SLEW
57. Low throw : SNAKE EYES

Down

1. Work out : GET FIT
2. Common magnet feature : U-SHAPE
3. Unemotional sort, in slang : ICEMAN
4. H. P. Lovecraft output : TALES
5. “Great” one in Africa : APE
6. Rules, for short : REGS
7. Grammy-winning artist India.___ : ARIE
8. Make fast, in a way : MOOR
9. Game with a 40-millimeter ball, informally : PONG
10. Days of yore, in days of yore : ELD
11. Cried dramatically : BOOHOOED
12. Not many : A COUPLE
13. Easily cleaned, in adspeak : NO-MESS
15. Homer’s beer supplier : MOE
18. You can hardly believe it : FISH STORY
23. Stops, as an engine : STALLS OUT
25. Totally cheated : HOSED
28. Merchant Samuel who lent his name to a historic island : ELLIS
29. “I Fall to Pieces” singer : CLINE
30. Words with cow or ball : HAVE A …
31. Screw over : SHAFT
32. Something ported at a portage : CANOE
33. Like many a purchase weighed at a deli : TARED
34. Guidelines observed in sisterhood : GIRL CODE
35. Bubbling, say : AT A BOIL
36. Grasslands : SWARDS
37. Way out : FREAKY
38. Creditor, in financial jargon : DEBTEE
39. They may be liquid : ASSETS
42. What’s always found in quotes? : PRICE
45. Term of endearment : HON
46. Easy things to dial on a rotary phone : ONES
47. “Ol’ Man River” composer Jerome : KERN
48. Letters on old film boxes : AGFA
49. Duchess of ___ : YORK
52. Do some diamond cutting? : MOW
53. Corn site : TOE

11 thoughts on “1222-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 22 Dec 2017, Friday”

  1. 19:04, no errors. Not easy, but I actually spent the most time in what, after the fact, looks to me like the easiest section. Go figure …?

  2. 28:50. Not too bad for a Friday although it took a while to get any foothold. I think HAVE A was my first fill in, and I grew from the center outward. Thought of TALLAHASSEEE and I was off to the races. Certainly a decent time for me on a Friday.

    I got YPRES from its being a backdrop to a Monty Python skit I remembered. I’ll take my history knowledge however I can get it…

    Best –

    1. I imagine those who couldn’t recall Ypres must’ve been saying “jeepers!” OK, OK, that was a horrible joke…. but it was all I had… 😛

  3. 20:39, no errors. Spent a long time staring at this grid with only 5 or 6 entries filled in, eventually gained momentum. In retrospect, the answers were not difficult (except DIDO/SWARDS was a complete guess), but the large number of potential answer options made the puzzle difficult.

  4. 29:40 and 6 errors in the bottom left. Thought SWARDS was SIERRA instead, so that set the table for ultimate failure. Had issues with 1A, thinking it AMPLIFIER at the outset. Stiff Friday challenge, at least bereft of trickery.

  5. Like Jeff, wanted amplifier. Needed cheat to get GUITARAMP and finish off NW corner. Similarly, wanted Yalta instead of YPRES in the SE corner.

  6. Looking again, that was a *terrible* clue for 14A. How is an escape room a “commitment”? I can see >wanting< "escape room" from a relationship or a commitment, but the clue doesn't describe that at all. More "manufactured difficulty" and poor editing.

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