1220-17 NY Times Crossword Answers 20 Dec 2017, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Talitha Randall
Edited by: Will Shortz

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Today’s Theme: Nine

We have three “+” signs in today’s grid, made from black squares. Across-answers on either side of the plus-signs are numbers that add up to NINE. Several down-answers also relate to NINE:

  • 60A. This puzzle’s theme : NINE
  • 21A. With 22-Across, certain way to make 60-Across : ONE
  • 22A. See 21-Across : EIGHT
  • 33A. With 34-Across, another way to make 60-Across : FOUR
  • 34A. See 33-Across : FIVE
  • 46A. With 47-Across, a third way to make 60-Across : SEVEN
  • 47A. See 46-Across : TWO
  • 2D. Month number 60-Across: Abbr. : SEPT
  • 7D. 60-Across, in baseball : TEAM
  • 26D. ___ 60-Across (state of euphoria) : CLOUD
  • 28D. A cat is said to have 60-Across of them : LIVES
  • 49D. Prefix meaning 60-Across : NONA-
  • 52D. German homophone of 60-Across : NEIN

Bill’s time: 10m 50s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Russian ruler : TSAR

The term “czar” (also “tsar”) is a Slavic word that was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 AD. “Czar” is derived from the word “Caesar”, which was synonymous with “emperor” at that time.

5. Themes : MOTIFS

A motif is a recurring element in an artistic work or design.

13. Pennsylvania, for example : AVENUE

Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. is sometimes called “America’s Main Street”, as it runs between the White House and the US Capitol. The exact reason why this important thoroughfare was given the name “Pennsylvania” seems to be unclear. One favored theory is that it was a gesture to the state of Pennsylvania after moving the country’s capital from Philadelphia.

18. Sunrise’s direction, in Sonora : ESTE

Sonora is the state in Mexico that lies just south of the borders with Arizona and New Mexico. Sonora is the second-largest state in the country, after Chihuahua.

20. “We shall never know all the good that a simple ___ can do”: Mother Teresa : SMILE

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in the city that is now called Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. At birth she was given the names Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (“Gonxha” means “little flower” in Albanian). She left home at the age of 18 and joined the Sisters of Loreto, and headed to Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Dublin, Ireland in order to learn English. Her goal was to teach in India, and English was the language used there for instruction by the nuns. After Mother Teresa passed away in 1997 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, a step on the road to canonization. In order for her to be beatified there had to be documented evidence of a miracle that was performed due to her intercession. The miracle in question was the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of a woman due to the application of a locket containing a picture of Mother Teresa. Documentation of a second miracle is required for her to be declared a saint. The canonization process seems to well underway, with Pope Francis recognizing a second miracle in December 2015.

24. Game-ending cry at a card table : GIN!

Gin rummy is a variant of the slower game known as standard rummy. It was introduced in 1909 by one Elwood Baker and his son.

25. Designer Jacobs : MARC

Marc Jacobs is an American fashion designer from New York City with his own line of clothing. He is also the creative director for the French design house, Louis Vuitton.

28. Dunham of “Girls” : LENA

Lena Dunham is a co-star in the HBO series “Girls”, and is also the show’s creator. Dunham garnered a lot of attention for herself during the 2012 US Presidential election cycle as she starred in an ad focused on getting out the youth vote. In the spot she compared voting for the first time with having sex for the first time.

29. Some businesses: Abbr. : LLCS

A limited liability company (LLC) is a company structure that limits the liability of the owner or owners. It is a hybrid structure in the sense that it can be taxed as would an individual or partnership, while also maintaining the liability protection afforded to a corporation.

35. Colorful bird with a big bill : TOUCAN

The toucan is a brightly-marked bird with a large, colorful bill. The name “toucan” comes into English via Portuguese from the Tupi name “tukana”. The Tupi were an indigenous people of Brazil.

48. Absurd : INANE

Our word “inane” meaning silly or lacking substance comes from the Latin “inanitis” meaning “empty space”.

50. Opera set partly on the banks of the Nile : AIDA

“Aida” is a famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi that is actually based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Mariette also designed the costumes and stages for the opening performance. The opera was first staged in 1871 in an opera house in Cairo. In the storyline, Aida is an Ethiopian princess brought into Egypt as a slave. Radames is an Egyptian commander who falls in love with her, and then of course complications arise!

53. 19th-century Midwest territory : DAKOTA

The Dakota Territory was formed in 1861 and ceased to exist with the admission to the Union of the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. The territory was split into two states in 1889 largely due to lobbying by the Republican Party, which enjoyed a lot of support in the Dakota Territory. The admission of two states added to the political power of the party in the US Senate, by adding four safe Republican seats.

55. Annie and the Little Mermaid, notably : REDHEADS

“Little Orphan Annie” is a comic strip created in 1924 by Harold Gray. The title was taken from a poem written in 1885 by James Whitcomb Riley called “Little Orphant Annie” (and yes, that spelling “orphant” is correct). Strangely enough, the original name of the poem was “Little Orphant Allie”, changed forever at its third printing, purely because of a typesetter’s error!

In the 1989 Disney animated film “The Little Mermaid”, the title character is given the name “Ariel”. In the original fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that dates back to 1836, the Little Mermaid is given no name at all. There is a famous statue of the unnamed Little Mermaid sitting in Copenhagen Harbor, in Andersen’s homeland of Denmark.

Down

2. Month number 60-Across: Abbr. : SEPT

The month of September is the ninth month in our year, although the name “September” comes from the Latin word “septum” meaning “seventh”. September was the seventh month in the Roman calendar until the year 46 BC when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar. The Julian system moved the start of the year from March 1st to January 1st, and shifted September to the ninth month. The Gregorian calendar that we use today was introduced in 1582.

3. Had a date, say : ATE

Date palms can be either male or female. Only the female tree bears fruit.

6. Sunset’s direction, in Sorrento : OVEST

Sorrento is a small town on the Italian coast that sits on a peninsula overlooking the Bay of Naples. It is an extremely popular tourist destination. The island of Capri lies off the western tip of the Sorrento Peninsula.

10. First name in women’s tennis : SERENA

Serena Williams is the younger of the two Williams sisters playing professional tennis. Serena has won more prize money in her career than any other female athlete.

11. 2016 Disney film set in Polynesia : MOANA

“Moana” is a 2016 animated feature film and the 56th animated Disney movie. The title character is the daughter of a Polynesian chief who heads off in search of the demigod Maui, hoping that he can save her people.

14. Singer Yorke of Radiohead : THOM

Radiohead is an alternative rock band from England that formed in 1985. When the band self-released their 2007 studio album “In Rainbows”, it was a big deal for the music industry. Radiohead offered a digital version of the album using a pay-what-you-want pricing model. Reportedly, most fans paid what would be a normal retail price for the download version of the album. That’s not bad, considering the relatively low cost to produce a download compared to the cost of producing a CD.

23. Mate for a bull : HEIFER

A calf is a young cow of either sex that is not more than a year old. A heifer is a young cow that has not calved, and the term “cow” can be used for a female of the species that has given birth.

26. ___ 60-Across (state of euphoria) : CLOUD

I don’t think that anyone is really certain of the etymology of the term “on cloud nine” meaning “elated”, but I do like the following explanation. The 1896 “International Cloud-Atlas” was a long-standing reference used to define cloud shapes that was based on a classification created by amateur meteorologist Luke Howard some decades earlier. The biggest and puffiest of all cloud shapes (and most comfortable-looking to lie on) is cumulonimbus. And you guessed it, of the ten cloud shapes defined in the atlas, cumulonimbus was cloud nine …

28. A cat is said to have 60-Across of them : LIVES

In the English-speaking world, the myth is that cats have nine lives. In Spanish-speaking cultures, cats are said to have seven lives. They are less fortunate in Turkish and Arabic cultures, as the number of lives is limited to six.

30. ___ Jacquet, director of “March of the Penguins” : LUC

“March of the Penguins” is a truly moving, and humorous, nature documentary film by co-writer and director Luc Jacquet. It is a remarkable production, often filmed in temperatures between -58 and -76 degrees Fahrenheit.

32. Problem before a big date, informally : ZIT

The slang term “zit”, meaning “pimple”, came into the language in 1966, but no one seems to know its exact derivation.

33. Left bereft : FORSAKEN

“Bereft” is the adjectival form of the verb “to bereave”.

35. What transported Dorothy to Oz : TORNADO

In the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz”, the tornado scene ended up costing more money than any other special effect in the whole film. The tornado itself was a 35′ tall muslin sock suspended from a gantry that could move the “twister” during the shoot. The bottom of the sock could also be moved, as it was attached to a rod below the sound-stage. Fuller’s earth was poured into the sock and was blown around by compressed air creating the dust storm effect, and hiding the muslin sock.

36. Burst in space : NOVA

A nova (plural “novae”) is basically a star that suddenly gets much brighter, gradually returning to its original state weeks or even years later. The increased brightness of a nova is due to increased nuclear activity causing the star to pick up extra hydrogen from a neighboring celestial body. A supernova is very different from a nova. A supernova is a very bright burst of light and energy created when most of the material in a star explodes. The bright burst of a supernova is very short-lived compared to the sustained brightness of a nova.

37. Gregor who pioneered in genetics : MENDEL

Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk, and a scientist who achieved fame after his passing when his work in the field of genetics was rediscovered. The conclusions he drew from his studies of garden peas led to him earning the moniker “father of modern genetics”.

38. Upbraids : CHIDES

To upbraid is to reproach, find fault with, and is a term of Swedish origin.

43. Greta Garbo or Ingrid Bergman : SWEDE

Famously, Greta Garbo lived a life of seclusion in New York City after she retired from the entertainment business. Commentators often associated her need for privacy with a line she uttered in the great 1932 movie “Grand Hotel”. Her character Grusinskaya the Russian ballerina said, “I want to be alone (…) I just want to be alone”.

The wonderful actress Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm and named for Princess Ingrid of Sweden. The three Bergman performances that stand out for me are in 1942’s “Casablanca” opposite Humphrey Bogart, in 1944’s “Gaslight” opposite Charles Boyer and in 1946’s “Notorious” opposite Cary Grant. What a stunningly beautiful woman she was …

51. Possible score after 40-all : AD IN

The origin of the 15, 30, 40 scoring system in a game of tennis is disputed. One theory is that a 60-minute clock face was used to keep score. Points won would advance in quarters, 15, 30, 45 and 60 for game. When the score “deuce” was introduced to avoid a win by a one-point difference, the score of 45 was pushed back to 40, so that 50 could indicate deuce.

52. German homophone of 60-Across : NEIN

“Nein” is the German for “no”, and “ja” translates as “yes”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Russian ruler : TSAR
5. Themes : MOTIFS
11. Gathering of people with a shared interest : MEET-UP
13. Pennsylvania, for example : AVENUE
14. Nixes, as a proposal : TORPEDOS
16. Bibliophile : READER
17. Possess, in the Bible : HAST
18. Sunrise’s direction, in Sonora : ESTE
20. “We shall never know all the good that a simple ___ can do”: Mother Teresa : SMILE
21. With 22-Across, certain way to make 60-Across : ONE
22. See 21-Across : EIGHT
24. Game-ending cry at a card table : GIN!
25. Designer Jacobs : MARC
27. V.I.P. at boot camp : SARGE
28. Dunham of “Girls” : LENA
29. Some businesses: Abbr. : LLCS
31. Assessing, with “up” : SIZING
33. With 34-Across, another way to make 60-Across : FOUR
34. See 33-Across : FIVE
35. Colorful bird with a big bill : TOUCAN
37. Dole (out) : METE
38. Carrier of electricity : CORD
39. Electricity, e.g. : POWER
41. Be flippant with : SASS
45. Office data: Abbr. : HRS
46. With 47-Across, a third way to make 60-Across : SEVEN
47. See 46-Across : TWO
48. Absurd : INANE
50. Opera set partly on the banks of the Nile : AIDA
52. Food or air : NEED
53. 19th-century Midwest territory : DAKOTA
55. Annie and the Little Mermaid, notably : REDHEADS
57. Like paradise : EDENIC
58. Network (with) : LIAISE
59. Voiced : SONANT
60. This puzzle’s theme : NINE

Down

1. More concise : TERSER
2. Month number 60-Across: Abbr. : SEPT
3. Had a date, say : ATE
4. Like cutting in line : RUDE
5. Deface : MAR
6. Sunset’s direction, in Sorrento : OVEST
7. 60-Across, in baseball : TEAM
8. Person native to an area : INDIGENE
9. Kind of station : FUELING
10. First name in women’s tennis : SERENA
11. 2016 Disney film set in Polynesia : MOANA
12. Pretend to be : POSE AS
14. Singer Yorke of Radiohead : THOM
15. Ado : STIR
19. Nestful : EGGS
23. Mate for a bull : HEIFER
26. ___ 60-Across (state of euphoria) : CLOUD
27. Difficult situation : SCRAPE
28. A cat is said to have 60-Across of them : LIVES
30. ___ Jacquet, director of “March of the Penguins” : LUC
32. Problem before a big date, informally : ZIT
33. Left bereft : FORSAKEN
35. What transported Dorothy to Oz : TORNADO
36. Burst in space : NOVA
37. Gregor who pioneered in genetics : MENDEL
38. Upbraids : CHIDES
40. Small dam : WEIR
42. “Relax, soldier!” : AT EASE!
43. Greta Garbo or Ingrid Bergman : SWEDE
44. Gains yardage? : SODS
46. Arrive, as a storm : SET IN
49. Prefix meaning 60-Across : NONA-
51. Possible score after 40-all : AD IN
52. German homophone of 60-Across : NEIN
54. “___ now!” (infomercial phrase) : ACT
56. Japanese “yes” : HAI