1205-18 NY Times Crossword 5 Dec 18, Wednesday

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Constructed by: Alan Arbesfeld
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: United Nations

Themed answers each are a sequence of NATION names, but that sequence has been reparsed to suit the clue:

  • 35A. Organization honored on October 24 … and the theme of this puzzle : UNITED NATIONS
  • 17A. “You can’t bring in a crazed antelope, Mr. Glass!”? : IRA, NO MANIC ELAND (IRAN & OMAN & ICELAND)
  • 23A. Wrigley Field’s beer boycott goes into effect? : CUB ALE BAN ON (CUBA & LEBANON)
  • 50A. Mother isn’t straight with actress Vardalos? : MA LIES TO NIA (MALI & ESTONIA)
  • 57A. Suffering caused by reader prejudice? : PERUSER BIAS PAIN (PERU & SERBIA & SPAIN)

Bill’s time: 8m 34s

Bill’s errors: 0

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Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Sabbath service site : SHUL

“Shul” is another name for a synagogue. “Shul” is the term mostly used in Orthodox Judaism, “synagogue” in Conservative Judaism, and “temple” in Reform Judaism.

5. Title woman in a 1976 Dylan song : ISIS

“Isis” is a 1975 co-written and recorded by Bob Dylan. It’s all about a man who marries Isis, separates from her, and then returns to the marriage. Many interpret “Isis” as an autobiographical work that reflect Dylan’s own relationship with his wife at that time Sara Dylan.

14. ___ Millions (multistate lottery) : MEGA

The Mega Millions lottery game is available in most states of the US, as is its major rival called Powerball.

15. Aberdeen resident : SCOT

The Scottish city of Aberdeen is located amidst plentiful supplies of granite that were actively quarried until the 1970s. Many local buildings incorporate the granite in their structure. Aberdeen granite is especially prized for its high levels of mica, which can cause the stone to sparkle like silver. It’s no surprise then, that the list of Aberdeen’s nicknames includes “Granite City” and “Silver City”.

17. “You can’t bring in a crazed antelope, Mr. Glass!”? : IRA, NO MANIC ELAND (IRAN & OMAN & ICELAND)

Ira Glass is a well-respected presenter on American Public Radio who is perhaps best known for his show “This American Life”. I was interested to learn that one of my favorite composers, Philip Glass, is Ira’s first cousin.

An eland is a large African antelope, and in fact the largest antelope on the continent. Both male and female elands have horns, and those horns have a steady spiral ridge along their length.

20. Picker-upper : TONIC

A tonic is medication that is said to restore health. The original use of the term “tonic” was as an adjective meaning “increasing body tone”.

23. Wrigley Field’s beer boycott goes into effect? : CUB ALE BAN ON (CUBA & LEBANON)

The famous ballpark that is home to the Chicago Cubs was built in 1914. Back then it was known as Weeghman Park, before becoming Cubs Park when the Cubs arrived in 1920. It was given the name Wrigley Field in 1926, after the owner William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame. Wrigley Field is noted as the only professional ballpark that has ivy covering the outfield walls. The ivy is a combination of Boston Ivy and Japanese Bittersweet, both of which can survive the harsh winters in Chicago.

28. Shoulder bone : SCAPULA

The scapula is the shoulder blade. It is thought that the term comes from the Greek “skaptein” meaning “to dig”. The assumption is that the shoulder blade resembles a trowel or a small shovel, hence the name “scapula”.

30. Call for help : SOS

The combination of three dots – three dashes – three dots, is a Morse signal first introduced by the German government as a standard distress call in 1905. The sequence is remembered as the letters SOS (three dots – pause – three dashes – pause – three dots), although in the emergency signal there is no pause between the dots and dashes, so SOS is in effect only a mnemonic. Similarly, the phrases “Save Our Souls” and “Save Our Ship” are also mnemonics, introduced after the “SOS” signal was adopted.

31. Stat for which lower is better : ERA

Earned run average (ERA)

34. “Mayor” memoirist : KOCH

“Mayor” is a 1984 autobiography by former New York City mayor Ed Koch.

35. Organization honored on October 24 … and the theme of this puzzle : UNITED NATIONS

The Charter of the United Nations was signed by the member states in San Francisco in June 1945 and came into force on 24 October 1945. October 24 was chosen as United Nations Day in 1947. In 1971 the United Nations further resolved to make UN Day a public holiday in all UN member states.

40. Melee memento, maybe : SCAR

Our term “melee” comes from the French “mêlée”, and in both languages the word means “confused fight”.

41. Early spaceman : GLENN

John Glenn was a Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and US Senator. As an astronaut, Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, in 1962. He later became the oldest person to fly in space, in 1998 at the age of 77.

43. Guitarist Paul : LES

Les Paul was a guitarist, songwriter and inventor. When he was 33 years old, Paul was involved in a near-fatal car crash that left his right arm and elbow shattered. Surgeons offered him the choice of amputation or a rebuilding of the limb that would leave him unable to bend his elbow. He told them to set his arm at just under 90 degrees so that he could at least hold his guitar and perhaps play it.

46. Amusement park attractions : ARCADES

Our word “arcade” comes from the Latin “arcus” meaning “arc”. The first arcades were passages made from a series of arches. This could be an avenue of trees, and eventually any covered avenue. I remember arcades lined with shops and stores when I was growing up on the other side of the Atlantic. Arcades came to be lined with lots of amusements, resulting in amusement arcades and video game arcades.

50. Mother isn’t straight with actress Vardalos? : MA LIES TO NIA (MALI & ESTONIA)

Not only is the delightful Nia Vardalos the star of the 2002 hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, she also wrote the screenplay. The film never made it to number one at the box office, but it still pulled in more money than any other movie in history that didn’t make it to number one. That record I think reflects the fact that the film wasn’t a blockbuster but rather a so-called “sleeper hit”, a movie that people went to see based on referrals from friends. The big fat mistake came when a spin-off TV show was launched, “My Big Fat Greek Life”. It ran for only 7 episodes. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” hit movie theaters in 2016.

53. Mich. neighbor : ONT

The Canadian province of Ontario takes its name from the Great Lake. In turn, Lake Ontario’s name is thought to be derived from “Ontari:io”, a Huron word meaning “great lake”. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Canada’s most populous city (and the capital of the province).

54. Venetian basilica eponym : ST MARK

St. Mark’s Basilica is the Roman Catholic cathedral in the the city of Venice, Italy. In front of the basilica is the Piazza San Marco, the city’s main public square. St. Mark’s Square is a remarkable urban space in Europe as the sound of the human voice dominates, rather than the sound of traffic. That is indeed remarkable …

55. Western band : POSSE

Our word “posse” comes from an Anglo-Latin term from the early 15th century “posse comitatus” meaning “the force of the county”.

61. Slave in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : ELIZA

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous and most successful work is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It was also her first novel. Her second was published in 1856: “Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp”.

63. Breakfast brand : EGGO

Eggo is the brand name of a line of frozen waffles made by Kellogg’s. When they were introduced in the 1930s, the name “Eggo” was chosen to promote the “egginess” of the batter. “Eggo” replaced “Froffles”, the original name chosen by melding “frozen” and “waffles”.

Down

1. Workers at forges : SMITHS

A blacksmith is someone who forges and shapes iron, perhaps to make horseshoes. A farrier is someone who fits horseshoes onto the hooves of horses. The term “blacksmith” is sometimes used for one who shoes horses, especially as many blacksmiths make horseshoes and fit them as well.

3. Landlocked African country : UGANDA

Uganda is a landlocked county in East Africa lying just to the west of Kenya. Uganda was ruled by the British as a protectorate from 1894 and gained independence in 1962. Uganda is very much associated with the tyrannical rule of Idi Amin in the 1970s.

4. Civil rights activist Guinier : LANI

Lani Guinier was the first African-American woman to achieve tenure at Harvard Law School.

7. Ancient land on the Aegean Sea : IONIA

The geographic region called Ionia is located in present day Turkey. Ionia was prominent in the days of Ancient Greece although it wasn’t a unified state, but rather a collection of tribes. The tribal confederacy was more based on religious and cultural similarities than a political or military alliance. Nowadays we often refer to this arrangement as the Ionian League.

The Aegean Sea is that part of the Mediterranean that lies between Greece and Turkey. Within the Aegean Sea are found the Aegean Islands, a group that includes Crete and Rhodes.

9. Nerdy sorts : DWEEBS

“Dweeb” is relatively recent American slang that came out of college life in the late sixties. Dweeb, squarepants, nerd; they’re all not-nice terms that mean the same thing, i.e. someone excessively studious and socially inept.

10. Big Three conference site : YALTA

The Yalta Conference was a wartime meeting between WWII leaders Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Held in February of 1945, the conference is most remembered for decisions made on the post-war organization of Europe. To a large extent, the three leaders made decisions carving up political influence around the world, decisions that have profound implications to this day.

18. Like Hogwarts courses : OCCULT

The adjective “occult” means “secret, beyond the realm of human comprehension”. The term derives from the Latin “occultus” meaning “hidden, concealed”.

In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” universe, The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded by the four most brilliant witches and wizards of their time: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Each of the founders lent their name to a House in the school, i.e. Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

19. Jazz singer Laine : CLEO

Cleo Laine is a jazz singer from England who is noted for her remarkable range of nearly four octaves. Laine is the only female performer to have received Grammy nominations in each of the classical, jazz and popular music categories. My favorite of her recordings is “He Was Beautiful”, which is also known as “Cavatina” and is a version of the theme from the film “The Deer Hunter”.

24. Beekeeper of filmdom : 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 Ulee 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.

25. Element between helium and argon on the periodic table : NEON

Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid, and then warmed the liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

26. Middle-earth menaces : ORCS

Orcs are mythical humanoid creatures that appear in the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. Since Tolkien’s use of orcs, they have also been featured in other fantasy fiction and in fantasy games.

29. Part of a full house : PAIR

That would be the card game poker.

33. “Star Trek” sequel, briefly : TNG

When Gene Roddenberry first proposed the science fiction series that became “Star Trek”, he marketed it as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, a pioneer-style Western in outer space. In fact his idea was to produce something more like “Gulliver’s Travels”, as he intended to write episodes that were adventure stories on one level, but morality tales on another. Personally I think that he best achieved this model with the spin-off series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG). If you watch individual episodes you will see thinly disguised treatments of moral issues such as racism, homosexuality, genocide etc. For my money, “The Next Generation” is the best of the whole franchise …

34. Big Island coffee : KONA

Kona coffee is cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii, on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, two of the five volcanoes on the island. Coffee plants were brought to Kona in 1828 and late in the 19th century, coffee became a viable and worthwhile crop. Today Kona is a one of the most expensive and popular coffees in the world.

35. Jackie Robinson’s alma mater : UCLA

Jackie Robinson Stadium is the baseball stadium owned by UCLA that is home field for the UCLA Bruins. Located off-campus, the stadium was constructed using funds donated by Hoyt Pardee. Pardee and Jackie Robinson were classmates who graduated from UCLA in 1941.

The great Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play in baseball’s Major League. When Robinson made his first MLB appearance, for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he did so in front of over 26,000 spectators. Well over half the crowd that day were African-Americans, there to witness the event. Major League Baseball universally retired Robinson’s number 42 in 1997. However, on the annual Jackie Robinson Day, all MLB players on all teams wear #42 in his honor.

37. Comic who said “If you want to read about love and marriage, you’ve got to buy two separate books” : ALAN KING

Alan King was a comedian and satirist, famous for joking about his Jewish culture. He was also an actor, and starred in many movies over a 50-year period, including “I, the Jury (1982), “Author! Author!” (1982), “Casino” (1995) and “Rush Hour 2” (2001).

38. Garr of “Tootsie” : TERI

Actress Teri Garr had a whole host of minor roles in her youth, including appearances in nine Elvis movies. Garr’s big break came with the role of Inga in “Young Frankenstein”, and her supporting role in “Tootsie” earned Garr an Academy Award nomination. Sadly, Teri Garr suffers from multiple sclerosis. She is a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“Tootsie” is a hilarious 1982 comedy starring Dustin Hoffman in the title role, a male actor who adopts a female identity in order to land an acting job. Jessica Lange won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the film. “Tootsie” was also provided Geena Davis with her first movie role.

40. Rick’s Café Américain employee : SAM

The movie “Casablanca” was released in January of 1943, timed to coincide with the Casablanca Conference, the high-level meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill. The film wasn’t a box-office hit, but gained critical acclaim, winning three Oscars including Best Picture. The signature song “As Time Goes By” was written many years earlier for a 1931 Broadway musical called “Everybody’s Welcome”, and was a hit in 1931 for Rudy Vallee. But today we all remember the Casablanca version, sung by Dooley Wilson (who played “Sam” in the film). Poor Dooley didn’t get to record it as a single, due to a musician’s strike in 1943. The 1931 Rudy Vallee version was re-released that year and became an even bigger hit second time round.

The fictional Rick’s Café Américain is the main setting used in the movie “Casablanca”, with the café owner played by Humphrey Bogart. Should you ever visit Morocco, you might try visiting Rick’s Café Casablanca, an establishment opened in 2004 that largely recreates the look and feel of the memorable movie set.

43. Sics on : LETS AT

“Sic ’em” is an attack order given to a dog, one instructing the animal to growl, bark or even bite. The term dates back to the 1830s, with “sic” being a variation of “seek”.

44. Name in a Salinger title : ESME

J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” that was originally published in “The New Yorker” in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.

45. Eschew rather than chew? : STARVE

“To eschew”, meaning “to avoid, shun” comes from the Old French word “eschiver” that means the same thing.

47. Rx info : DOSAGE

There seems to some uncertainty about the origin of the symbol “Rx” that’s used for a medical prescription. One explanation is that it comes from the astrological sign for Jupiter, a symbol put on prescriptions in days of old to invoke Jupiter’s blessing to help a patient recover.

49. Pool members of old : STENOS

Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

51. Japanese import : ISUZU

Isuzu is a Japanese auto manufacturer that is very successful in the medium and heavy truck market in particular. You’ll be seeing fewer and fewer Isuzu passenger cars on American roads though, as the company exited the US passenger car market in 2008.

56. Volkswagen competitor : OPEL

Adam Opel founded his company in 1863, first making sewing machines in a cowshed. Commercial success brought new premises and a new product line in 1886, namely penny-farthing bicycles. Adam Opel died in 1895, leaving his two sons with a company that made more penny-farthings and sewing machines than any other company in the world. In 1899 the two sons partnered with a locksmith and started to make cars, but not very successfully. Two years later, the locksmith was dropped in favor of a licensing arrangement with a French car company. By 1914, Opel was the largest manufacturer of automobiles in Germany. My Dad had an Opel in the seventies, a station wagon (we’d say “estate car” in Ireland) called an Opel Kadett.

57. Toning target, for short : PEC

“Pecs” is the familiar name for the chest muscle, which is more correctly known as the pectoralis major muscle. “Pectus” is a the Latin word for “breast, chest”.

59. Kia model : RIO

South Korean automaker Kia have been making the subcompact model called the Rio since 2000.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Sabbath service site : SHUL
5. Title woman in a 1976 Dylan song : ISIS
9. Couples : DYADS
14. ___ Millions (multistate lottery) : MEGA
15. Aberdeen resident : SCOT
16. “Yippee!” : WAHOO!
17. “You can’t bring in a crazed antelope, Mr. Glass!”? : IRA, NO MANIC ELAND (IRAN & OMAN & ICELAND)
20. Picker-upper : TONIC
21. House, as soldiers : BILLET
22. Put under wraps : HID
23. Wrigley Field’s beer boycott goes into effect? : CUB ALE BAN ON (CUBA & LEBANON)
28. Shoulder bone : SCAPULA
30. Call for help : SOS
31. Stat for which lower is better : ERA
32. One may be red : ALERT
34. “Mayor” memoirist : KOCH
35. Organization honored on October 24 … and the theme of this puzzle : UNITED NATIONS
40. Melee memento, maybe : SCAR
41. Early spaceman : GLENN
42. Clay, after 1964 : ALI
43. Guitarist Paul : LES
46. Amusement park attractions : ARCADES
50. Mother isn’t straight with actress Vardalos? : MA LIES TO NIA (MALI & ESTONIA)
53. Mich. neighbor : ONT
54. Venetian basilica eponym : ST MARK
55. Western band : POSSE
57. Suffering caused by reader prejudice? : PERUSER BIAS PAIN (PERU & SERBIA & SPAIN)
61. Slave in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” : ELIZA
62. Let off some steam : VENT
63. Breakfast brand : EGGO
64. Ability to effect change : CLOUT
65. One of 12 on a cube : EDGE
66. It helps you focus : LENS

Down

1. Workers at forges : SMITHS
2. Lifesaving, say : HEROIC
3. Landlocked African country : UGANDA
4. Civil rights activist Guinier : LANI
5. Suffix with ideal : -ISM
6. One close by a swordsman’s side : SCABBARD
7. Ancient land on the Aegean Sea : IONIA
8. Shots from movies : STILLS
9. Nerdy sorts : DWEEBS
10. Big Three conference site : YALTA
11. “Gotcha!” : AHA!
12. Put on : DON
13. Means of putting down roots? : SOD
18. Like Hogwarts courses : OCCULT
19. Jazz singer Laine : CLEO
24. Beekeeper of filmdom : ULEE
25. Element between helium and argon on the periodic table : NEON
26. Middle-earth menaces : ORCS
27. “Don’t think so” : NAH
29. Part of a full house : PAIR
33. “Star Trek” sequel, briefly : TNG
34. Big Island coffee : KONA
35. Jackie Robinson’s alma mater : UCLA
36. Get perfectly : NAIL
37. Comic who said “If you want to read about love and marriage, you’ve got to buy two separate books” : ALAN KING
38. Garr of “Tootsie” : TERI
39. PRINTED SO AS TO SHOUT : IN CAPS
40. Rick’s Café Américain employee : SAM
43. Sics on : LETS AT
44. Name in a Salinger title : ESME
45. Eschew rather than chew? : STARVE
47. Rx info : DOSAGE
48. Flag : ENSIGN
49. Pool members of old : STENOS
51. Japanese import : ISUZU
52. Spherical : ORBED
56. Volkswagen competitor : OPEL
57. Toning target, for short : PEC
58. 90° turn : ELL
59. Kia model : RIO
60. Polished off : ATE

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