0109-19 NY Times Crossword 9 Jan 19, Wednesday

Constructed by: Trenton Charlson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): The I’s Have It

Today’s themed answers all contain the vowel I, and no other vowel at all.

Bill’s time: 6m 26s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1. Gold, frankincense and myrrh, famously : GIFTS

Frankincense and myrrh are both tree resins that are exuded when certain species of tree are damaged. The harvested resins are used to make essentials oils for perfumes, and are also burned to give off a pleasant fragrance.

13. Pop music’s ___ Vanilli : MILLI

Milli Vanilli famously won a Grammy and had it revoked when it was discovered that they didn’t even provide the lead vocals for the award-winning recording, and just lip-synced when performing on stage.

17. Pandora released them : ILLS

According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. She was created by the gods, with each god bestowing on her a gift. Her name can be translated from Greek as “all-gifted”. Pandora is famous for the story of “Pandora’s Box”. In actual fact, the story should be about Pandora’s “Jar” as a 16th-century error in translation created a “box” out of the “jar”. In the story of Pandora’s Box, curiosity got the better of her and she opened up a box she was meant to leave alone. As a result she released all the evils of mankind, just closing it in time to trap hope inside.

18. Pupil’s place : IRIS

The iris is the colored part of the eye. It has an aperture in the center that can open or close depending on the level of light hitting the eye.

The pupil of the eye is the hole located in the center of the iris through which light enters the retina. The term “pupil” came into English via French from the latin “pupilla”, which is the diminutive form of “pupa” meaning “girl, doll”. The term came about due to the tiny doll-like image that one can see of oneself when looking into the center of another’s eyes.

19. Speaks like Sylvester : LISPS

Sylvester J. Pussycat is also known as Puddy Tat, and is a character who appeared in “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies” cartoons. Sylvester is the cat who is often trying to get the better of Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales and Hippety Hopper. Sylvester’s trademark line is the exclamation “Sufferin’ succotash!”, which emphasizes the characters pronounced lisp.

20. Face cards, informally? : IDS

Identity document (ID)

21. N.Y.C. subway line : IRT

The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) was the original private operator of the New York Subway when it opened in 1904. The city took over ownership of the system in 1940, but the lines originally operated by the IRT are still known by the IRT moniker.

24. Bad outcome for a QB: Abbr. : INT

Interception (Int.)

29. Jazz improvisations : RIFFS

A riff is a short rhythmic phrase in music, especially one improvised on a guitar.

32. Flashy accessories : BLING

Bling-bling (often simply “bling”) is the name given to all the shiny stuff sported by rap stars in particular i.e. the jewelry, watches, metallic cell phones, even gold caps on the teeth. The term comes from the supposed “bling” sound caused by light striking a shiny metal surface.

33. Aperitif with black currant liqueur : KIR

Kir is a French cocktail made by adding a teaspoon or so of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) to a glass, and then topping it off with white wine. The drink is named after Felix Kir, the Mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, who used to offer the drink to his guests. My wife is particularly fond of a variant called a Kir Royale, in which the white wine is replaced with champagne.

34. Mother of Horus : ISIS

Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility, as well as the protector of the dead and the goddess of children. She was the personification of the pharaoh’s power. The name “Isis” translates as “throne”, and she is usually depicted with a headdress shaped like a throne.

Horus was one of the oldest gods in Ancient Egyptian religion. Usually, Horus was depicted as a falcon or a man with a falcon head. The Eye of Horus was a common symbol used in Ancient Egypt, a symbol of protection and royal power.

35. Threshold : BRINK

Years ago I was taking a tour of a beautiful Elizabethan manor house in England, and was told a little “threshing” story by the guide as we stood in one of the rooms. She reminded us that threshing was the removal of seeds from chaff, and told us that back in the day the “chaff” was sometimes called the “thresh”. Thresh would be used on the floors, particularly in the kitchen areas where it would soak up spills and provide some thermal insulation, much as sawdust was used in my favorite pubs many moons ago. She pointed to two slots at the bottom of the door jambs where she said a low board was placed upright on the floor, to “hold” the “thresh” in the room. The board was called a “thresh-hold”, giving us our contemporary word “threshold”. I am not sure if all of that is really true, but it makes a nice story …

36. Pasta choice : ZITI

Cylindrical pasta is known in general as “penne”, and there are many variants. For example, ziti is a particularly large and long tube with square-cut ends. “Penne” is the plural of “penna”, the Italian for “feather, quill”.

37. With 38-Across, cocktail with lemon or lime : GIN …

38. See 37-Across : … SLING

A sling is a cocktail made of brandy, whiskey or gin that is sweetened and flavored with lemon. The most famous version of the sling is the Singapore sling, which was invented by a bartender at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. I am proud to report that I once had a Singapore sling in Raffles Hotel, many moons ago …

43. What Gollum calls “my precious” : RING

The words “Bless us and splash us, my precioussss!” are spoken by Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel “The Hobbit”. Gollum is a Hobbit with a split personality, which he developed under the influence of “the Ring”.

44. Number of suspects in Clue : SIX

Clue is board game that we knew under a different name growing up in Ireland. Outside of North America, Clue is marketed as “Cluedo”. Cluedo was the original name of the game, introduced in 1949 by the famous British board game manufacturer Waddingtons. There are cute differences between the US and UK versions. For example, the man who is murdered is called Dr. Black (Mr. Boddy in the US), one of the suspects is the Reverend Green (Mr. Green in the US), and the suspect weapons include a dagger (a knife in the US), and a spanner (a wrench in the US). I think it’s a fabulous game, a must during the holidays …

45. J. Edgar Hoover’s org. : FBI

What we know today as the FBI was set up in 1908 as the BOI, the Bureau of Investigation. The name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935. The Bureau was set up at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt. President Roosevelt was largely moved to do so after the 1901 assassination of President McKinley, as there was a perception that anarchists were threatening law and order. The FBI’s motto uses the organization’s initialism, and is “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity”.

48. Parsley portion : SPRIG

In Britain, parsley is listed as one of the four essential herbs. And those would be “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”.

51. J. Edgar Hoover used one: Abbr. : INIT

J. Edgar Hoover was the controversial director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from the time of its founding in 1935 until his death in 1972. While being given the credit for establishing the FBI as a first-class crime-fighting organization, he was also criticized by many for exceeding his authority. In particular, he came into conflict with Presidents Truman and Kennedy, both of whom considered dismissing him. Neither took that step however, fearing the political fallout.

54. Source of the word “whiskey” : IRISH

We use the spelling “whiskey” for American and Irish versions of the drink, and “whisky” for Scotch, the Scottish version.

57. Touch of color : TINCT

To tinct is to add a little color to something. The term ultimately derives from the Latin verb “tingere” meaning “to dye”.

58. Sounding like Big Ben : CHIMING

Big Ben is the name commonly used for the large bell in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster (aka the Houses of Parliament). Big Ben’s official name is the Great Bell, and there is some debate about the origins of the nickname. It may be named after Sir Benjamin Hall who oversaw the bell’s installation, or perhaps the English heavyweight champion of the day Benjamin Caunt. Big Ben fell silent in 2017 to make way four years of maintenance and repair work to the clock’s mechanism and the tower.

59. Many Punjabis : SIKHS

Sikhism is a religion that was founded in the Punjab region, which straddles the India-Pakistan border. Even though Sikhism was established relatively recently, it is now the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak.

Punjab is the most populous province in Pakistan and is home to over half of the country’s citizens. “Punjab” (also “Panjab”) translates as “Five Waters”, a reference to five rivers that form tributaries to the Indus River: Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.

Down

1. Breathers? : GILLS

A fish’s gills are the organs equivalent to the lungs of many land animals. The gills can extract oxygen dissolved in water and excrete carbon dioxide.

2. Unaffiliated voters: Abbr. : INDS

Independent (Ind)

6. Like the Cheshire cat : SMILING

The Cheshire Cat is a character in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. The Cheshire Cat has an expansive grin, and at one point magically disappears in front of Alice, leaving just the grin visible.

Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin,’ thought Alice; `but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!

10. Spam holders : TINS

Spam is a precooked meat product that is sold in cans. It was introduced by Hormel Foods in 1937. The main meat ingredients are pork shoulder meat and ham. The name “Spam” was chosen as the result of a competition at Hormel, with the winner earning himself a hundred dollars. According to the company, the derivation of the name “Spam” is a secret known by only a few former executives, but the speculation is that it stands for “spiced ham” or “shoulders of pork and ham”. Spam is particularly popular in Hawaii, so popular that it is sometimes referred to as “the Hawaiian steak”.

12. Reggae singer ___ Kamoze : INI

“Ini Kamoze” is the stage name of Jamaican reggae singer Cecil Campbell. His best-known song (though not known by me!) is “Here Comes the Hotstepper” released in 1994.

14. With 3-Down, Nintendo exercise offering : WII
(3D. See 14-Down : FIT)

Wii Fit is popular, in fact very popular. It’s the third best-selling console “game” in history, with over 20 million sold. Wii Fit uses the Wii Balance Board, on which the user stands.

15. Part of a guitar that also names something you can wear : G-STRING

The origins of “G-string”, the type of revealing underwear, is unclear. However, the term “gee string” has been used since the 1800s and originally referred to the string that held the loincloths worn by Native Americans.

28. Moxie : GRIT

Back as far as 1876, Moxie was a brand name of a “medicine” peddled with the claim that it “built up your nerve”. In 1924, Moxie was registered as a trademark for a bitter, non-alcoholic beverage (no more claims of nerve-building). And we’ve used the term “moxie” to mean “nerve” ever since …

35. Russian pancake : BLIN

A blintz (also “blin”, plural “blini”) is a thin pancake similar to a crêpe although unlike a crêpe, a blintz may contain yeast.

41. Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project : FRISCH

Otto Robert Frisch was an Austrian-born British physicist who was recruited to work on WWII’s Manhattan Project, the development of the first atomic bomb. Frisch’s main task was to determine the exact amount of enriched uranium required sustain a nuclear chain reaction, the critical mass.

45. Original sauna users : FINNS

As my Finnish-American wife will tell you, “sauna” is a Finnish word, and is pronounced more correctly as “sow-nah” (with “sow” as in the female pig).

46. Water cooler? : BRIG

A brig is a two-masted sailing vessel, with the name “brig” coming from the related vessel known as a brigantine. Brigs and brigantines are both two-masted, but there is a difference in the sails used. It was the use of retired brigs as prison ships that led to use of “brig” as the word for a jail or prison cell on a seagoing vessel.

49. Toyota hybrids, jocularly : PRII

The Toyota Prius is still the most fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered car sold in the US, according to the EPA. The name “Prius” is a Latin word meaning “ahead, leading”. In the US we pronounce the name “pree-us”, but across the Atlantic it’s pronounced “pry-us”. According to Toyota, the plural of “Prius” is “Prii”.

50. Zamboni site : RINK

The first ice resurfacing machine was developed in 1949 by one Frank Zamboni. The machine works by simultaneously executing a number of tasks. First, the surface of the ice is scraped off by a sharp blade. Next the ice is “washed” with water sprayed from the front of the Zamboni, and that wash water is vacuumed back up and filtered to remove impurities. Water is then reapplied to the scraped ice by a wet towel dragging behind the machine, forming a new skating surface.

52. Actor Cage, to friends : NIC

Actor Nicolas “Nic” Cage was born Nicolas Coppola. Cage is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire, both of whom are Nic Cage’s father’s siblings.

56. “Didn’t need to know that!” : TMI!

Too much information! (TMI!)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Gold, frankincense and myrrh, famously : GIFTS
6. Fleet of foot : SWIFT
11. Bit of bunny slope gear : MINISKI
13. Pop music’s ___ Vanilli : MILLI
14. #1 hit for the Troggs : WILD THING
16. Finalize, as comic art : INK IN
17. Pandora released them : ILLS
18. Pupil’s place : IRIS
19. Speaks like Sylvester : LISPS
20. Face cards, informally? : IDS
21. N.Y.C. subway line : IRT
22. Bed size : TWIN
24. Bad outcome for a QB: Abbr. : INT
25. Reacting to an awkward moment, perhaps : CRINGING
29. Jazz improvisations : RIFFS
32. Flashy accessories : BLING
33. Aperitif with black currant liqueur : KIR
34. Mother of Horus : ISIS
35. Threshold : BRINK
36. Pasta choice : ZITI
37. With 38-Across, cocktail with lemon or lime : GIN …
38. See 37-Across : … SLING
39. Center : MIDST
40. Oppressive : STIFLING
42. Removable locks : WIG
43. What Gollum calls “my precious” : RING
44. Number of suspects in Clue : SIX
45. J. Edgar Hoover’s org. : FBI
48. Parsley portion : SPRIG
51. J. Edgar Hoover used one: Abbr. : INIT
53. Formal letter opener : SIRS
54. Source of the word “whiskey” : IRISH
55. Close, as a community : TIGHT-KNIT
57. Touch of color : TINCT
58. Sounding like Big Ben : CHIMING
59. Many Punjabis : SIKHS
60. Quick cuts : SNIPS

Down

1. Breathers? : GILLS
2. Unaffiliated voters: Abbr. : INDS
3. See 14-Down : FIT
4. Item shot out of a cannon at an arena : T-SHIRT
5. Evade : SKIRT
6. Like the Cheshire cat : SMILING
7. Entertaining, in a way : WINING
8. Sorts : ILKS
9. Go gaga (over) : FLIP
10. Spam holders : TINS
11. Not so hot : MILD
12. Reggae singer ___ Kamoze : INI
14. With 3-Down, Nintendo exercise offering : WII
15. Part of a guitar that also names something you can wear : G-STRING
21. Stand-___ : INS
23. Instant : WINK
24. Possibilities : IFS
25. Static ___ : CLING
26. “It’s a joke” : I KID
27. Petty criticisms : NITS
28. Moxie : GRIT
29. Oil machinery : RIGS
30. “Oh, really?” : IS IT?
31. Over, to Odette : FINI
32. “Show me your worst!” : BRING IT!
35. Russian pancake : BLIN
36. Start of some evasive maneuvering : ZIG-
38. Deliberate discourtesies : SLIGHTS
39. Verb that’s also a Roman numeral : MIX
41. Otto who worked on the Manhattan Project : FRISCH
42. Word before reach or reason : WITHIN …
44. Venice’s Bridge of ___ : SIGHS
45. Original sauna users : FINNS
46. Water cooler? : BRIG
47. Loyal follower? : -IST
48. Gathers dust : SITS
49. Toyota hybrids, jocularly : PRII
50. Zamboni site : RINK
52. Actor Cage, to friends : NIC
53. Pass on : SKIP
56. “Didn’t need to know that!” : TMI!

2 thoughts on “0109-19 NY Times Crossword 9 Jan 19, Wednesday”

  1. 19:27. I didn’t realize that all the vowels were “I” until I saw the blog. How could I not notice something like that?

    Didn’t realize the word “whiskey” was Irish, but I should have known… One exception to the spelling rule: Maker’s Mark bourbon spells out “Whisky” on its face.

    Best –

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.