0131-19 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 19, Thursday

Constructed by: Peter A. Collins
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: 212

Themed answers all relate to the number 212:

  • 68A. Palindromic number : 212
  • 18A. 68-Down : NEW YORK’S AREA CODE
  • 42A. 68-Down with a slash inside it : LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY
  • 67A. 68-Down with a degree sign after it : H2O’S BOILING POINT

Bill’s time: 12m 21s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9. Ticker test, for short : EKG

An EKG measures electrical activity in the heart. Back in my homeland of Ireland, an EKG is known as an ECG (for electrocardiogram). We use the German name in the US, Elektrokardiogramm, giving us EKG. Apparently the abbreviation EKG is preferred as ECG might be confused (if poorly handwritten, I guess) with EEG, the abbreviation for an electroencephalogram.

15. Formal defense : APOLOGIA

An apologia is a formal apology, or a formal defense of one’s beliefs.

18. 68-Down : NEW YORK’S AREA CODE
(68D. Palindromic number : 212)

Area codes were introduced in the 1940s. Back then the “clicks” one heard when dialling a number led to mechanical wear on various pieces of equipment. In order to minimize overall mechanical wear, areas with high call volumes were given the most efficient area codes (lowest number of clicks). That led to New York getting the area code 212, Los Angeles 213 and Chicago 313.

20. Tropical black bird : ANI

The tropical bird called the ani is related to the cuckoo, although anis don’t go around robbing other birds nest as do the cuckoos.

21. Number between cinque and sette : SEI

In Italian, one might count “cinque, sei, sette” (five, six, seven).

25. Sporty auto feature : T-TOP

A T-top is a car roof that has removable panels on either side of a rigid bar that runs down the center of the vehicle above the driver.

27. Commercial lead-in to film : LUCAS-

Lucasfilm Ltd. is a San Francisco production company founded in 1971 by George Lucas. The enterprise’s most famous movies are the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises. The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm for over $4 billion in 2012.

33. Novelty singer/songwriter ___ Sherman : ALLAN

Allan Sherman was a comedy writer and producer who made a name for himself singing song parodies in the sixties. Sherman’s most famous novelty song was called “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, which became a hit single in 1963. The tune of the song is Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours”. The lyrics are a letter written home by a boy away at summer camp, which start out with:

Hello Muddah,
Hello Fadduh.
Here I am at
Camp Granada.
Camp is very
entertaining.
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.

41. Cancel : NIX

The use of “nix” as a verb, meaning “to shoot down”, dates back to the early 1900s. Before that “nix” was just a noun meaning “nothing”. “Nix” comes from the German “nichts”, which also means “nothing”.

42. 68-Down with a slash inside it : LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY
(68D. Palindromic number : 212)

Abraham Lincoln was born on 2/12/1809.

Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky making him the first president born in the West. His formal education was limited to a year and a half of schooling, but fortunately for us, Lincoln was an avid reader and educated himself over the years. Even though he was from a rural area, he avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like to kill animals even for food.

47. Relative whose name sounds like a city in France : NIECE

The French city of Nice is on the Mediterranean coast in the southeast of the country. Although Nice is only the fifth most populous city in France, it is home to the busiest airport outside of Paris. That’s because of all the tourists flocking to the French Riviera.

49. Capital on the Dnieper : KIEV

Kiev is located on the Dnieper River, and is the capital of Ukraine. We tend to use the spelling “Kiev”, but the Ukrainian government decided in 1995 to refer to the city as “Kyiv” when using Roman/Latin script.

The Dnieper River rises in Russia, and travels through Belarus and Ukraine to empty into the Black Sea.

58. Suffix with psych- : -OSIS

The suffix “-osis” is found in medical terms. The suffix indicates a disorder in general, with the prefix providing more specificity. Examples are silicosis (a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust), and psychosis (a serious mental illness). The plural of “-osis” is usually “-oses”, but “-osises” is out there as well.

60. Term of address in “The Wizard of Id” : SIRE

“The Wizard of Id” is one of my favorite comic strips. The strip was created by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart back in 1964. The storyline centers on a wizard in the medieval kingdom of Id. The king of Id refers to his subjects as “Idiots”.

61. Right-hand page : RECTO

The left and right pages of a book or magazine are known in publishing circles as verso and recto. Recto comes from the Latin for “right”, and verso comes from the Latin word for “turned”. The idea is that the left side of the page is “turned” and is the reverse of the recto/right side.

64. Palindromic relative : SIS

The three most famous palindromes in English have to be:

  • Able was I ere I saw Elba
  • A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!
  • Madam, I’m Adam

One of my favorite words is “Aibohphobia”, although it doesn’t appear in the dictionary and is a joke term. “Aibohphobia” is a great way to describe a fear of palindromes, by creating a palindrome out of the suffix “-phobia”.

67. 68-Down with a degree sign after it : H2O’S BOILING POINT

When Gabriel Fahrenheit first defined his temperature scale he set 0 degrees as the temperature of a mixture ice, water and salt. He defined 100 degrees as the temperature under his wife’s armpit! Using this scale he determined that water boiled at 210 degrees. Later refinements moved the boiling point of water up to 212 degrees, and as a result “body temperature” was shifted downwards to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

72. Steak accompanier : A1 SAUCE

The original A.1. steak sauce comes from a recipe created for King George IV of England by one of his personal chefs in 1824. King George declared it to be “A.1.”, and the rest is history.

74. Some I.R.S. forms : W-2S

Form W-2 is provided by US employers to their employees by January 31 each year. The form reports wages paid to the employees and taxes withheld.

Down

1. Powerhouse in curling : CANADA

I think curling is such a cool game (pun!). It’s somewhat like bowls, but played on a sheet of ice. The sport was supposedly invented in medieval Scotland, and is called curling because of the action of the granite stone is it moves across the ice. A player can make the stone take a curved path (“curl”) by causing it to slowly rotate as it slides.

3. Game show host with a shaved head : HOWIE MANDEL

Howie Mandel is a Canadian comic. He was a regular on TV a few years ago as host of “Deal or No Deal”, and more recently as a judge on “America’s Got Talent”. I remember Mandel from “St. Elsewhere” in the eighties, which was the first American TV show that I watched regularly when I moved to the US …

4. Cambridgeshire cathedral city : ELY

Ely Cathedral is a famous and beautiful church in the city of Ely in the county of Cambridgeshire. There is a Gothic door on the north face of the cathedral that was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the man famous as the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Christopher Wren had a personal link to the church, as his uncle was the Bishop of Ely.

5. Bush critters : ROOS

The word “kangaroo” comes from the Australian Aborigine term for the animal. There’s an oft-quoted story that the explorer James Cook (later Captain Cook) asked a local native what was the name of this remarkable-looking animal, and the native responded with “Kangaroo”. The story is that the native was actually saying “I don’t understand you”, but as cute as that tale is, it’s just an urban myth.

6. Old plume source : EGRET

Egrets are a group of several species of white herons. Many egret species were faced with extinction in the 1800s and early 1900s due to plume hunting, a practice driven by the demand for egret plumes that could be incorporated into hats.

8. Lab instructors, often : TAS

Teaching assistant (TA)

9. Book after II Chronicles : EZRA

Ezra the Scribe, also called “Ezra the Priest”, is the central character in the Book of Ezra in the Hebrew Bible.

11. Holy ___ : GRAIL

The Holy Grail is a theme found throughout Arthurian legend. The grail itself is some vessel, with the term “grail” coming from the Old French “graal” meaning “cup or bowl made of earth, wood or metal”. Over time, the legend of the Holy Grail became mingled with stories of the Holy Chalice of the Christian tradition, the cup used to serve wine at the Last Supper. Over time, the term “grail” came to be used for any desired or sought-after object.

12. Quinceañera attendee, perhaps : TIO

In Spanish, a “tio” (uncle) is the “hermano del padre o de la madre” (brother of the father or the mother).

“Quinceañera” is a celebration of a girl’s fifteenth birthday, and is an event common in many parts of Latin America.

19. Alternative to TGI Fridays : APPLEBEE’S

The Applebee’s chain of “Neighborhood Bar & Grill” restaurants was founded in 1980, with the first Applebee’s eatery opening in Decatur, Georgia. When it comes to “chain” restaurants, I like Applebee’s …

24. CD part : DISC

The compact disc (CD) was developed jointly by Philips and Sony as a medium for storing and playing sound recordings. When the first commercial CD was introduced back in 1982, a CD’s storage capacity was far greater than the amount of data that could be stored on the hard drive of personal computers available at that time.

28. Timeshare unit, often : CONDOMINIUM

The terms “condominium” and “apartment” tend to describe the same type of residential property, namely a private living space with facilities shared with others residing in the same building or complex. The difference is that a condominium is usually owned, and an apartment is rented. At least that’s how it is in the US. The word “condominium” comes from the Latin “com-” (together) and “dominum” (right of ownership).

32. Bugs Bunny or Jessica Rabbit : TOON

Bugs Bunny first said “What’s up, Doc?” in the 1940 cartoon short “A Wild Hare”, addressing the hunter Elmer Fudd.

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is a clever 1988 film featuring cartoon characters that interact directly with human beings. The most memorable cartoon characters have to be goofy Roger Rabbit, and vampish Jessica Rabbit. The film is based on a novel written by Gary K. Wolf called “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” There is a prequel floating around that has never been produced, which is titled “Who Discovered Roger Rabbit”.

38. Move like a moth : FLIT

Moths are insects closely related to butterflies. As a generalization, moths differ from butterflies in that the former are almost always nocturnal. Also, butterflies tend to have much thinner antennae.

42. Aesir trickster : LOKI

Loki is a god appearing in Norse mythology. In one story about Loki, he was punished by other gods for having caused the death of Baldr, the god of light and beauty. Loki is bound to a sharp rock using the entrails of one of his sons. A serpent drips venom which is collected in a bowl, and then his wife must empty the venom onto Loki when the bowl is full. The venom causes Loki great pain, and his writhing results in what we poor mortals experience as earthquakes.

The gods and goddesses of Norse mythology generally belong to either the Aesir tribe or the Vanir tribe. Most of the Norse gods with which we are familiar belong to Aesir, including Odin, Thor, Frigg and Tyr. Examples of the Vanir gods are Freya and Njord. The Aesir live in Asgard, and the Vanir in Vanaheim. The Aesir and Vanir eventually united into one pantheon after the Aesir-Vanir War.

45. Med. insurance groups : HMOS

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

50. Vice ___ : VERSA

“Vice versa” is a Latin phrase meaning “with position turned”. We always pronounce this term “incorrectly”. In Latin, a “c” is a hard sound, and a “v” is pronounced like a “w”. The pronunciation should be something like “wee-kay wehr-sa”.

52. Former Disney exec Michael : EISNER

Michael Eisner took over as CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 1984. Eisner has been attributed with turning Disney around, as the company was floundering really since 1966 when Walt Disney died. Eisner had a good run, but ran foul of Walt Disney’s nephew Roy Disney who led a boardroom revolt that resulted in Eisner’s resignation in 2005.

54. Soccer star Chastain : BRANDI

Brandi Chastain is professional soccer player and former member of the US national team. Famously, Chastain scored the game-winning kick in a penalty shootout in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. Male soccer players regularly whip off their jerseys in celebration of a goal, and Chastain did the same thing. The sports bra seen around the world, as it were …

55. Snow White’s housemates, for instance : SEPTET

In the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale called “Snow White”, the seven dwarfs were not given any names. The names were added for the 1937 classic Disney film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. The seven dwarfs are:

  • Doc (the leader of the group)
  • Grumpy (that would be me, according to my wife …)
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Bashful
  • Sneezy
  • Dopey

57. Teaser that may include pluses and minuses : REBUS

A rebus is a puzzle that uses pictures to represent letters and groups of letters. For example, a picture of a “ewe” might represent the letter “U” or the pronoun “you”.

59. Summation symbol, in math : SIGMA

Sigma is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, and is the one used for an “ess” sound, equivalent to our letter S. Sigma is used in mathematics to represent a summation, the adding together of a sequence of numbers.

62. Part of a white script on a red can : COCA

The first cola drink to become a commercial success was Coca-Cola, soon after it was invented by a druggist in 1886. That original Coca-Cola was flavored mainly with kola nuts and vanilla. The formulation was based on an alcoholic drink called Coca Wine that had been on sale for over twenty years.

69. Predecessor of the C.I.A. : OSS

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was formed during WWII in order to carry out espionage behind enemy lines. A few years after the end of the war the OSS functions were taken up by a new group, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947.

70. German 101 verb : IST

“Ist” is the German word for “is”, in the third person singular.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Intelligible : COHERENT
9. Ticker test, for short : EKG
12. Leaves after dinner? : TEA
15. Formal defense : APOLOGIA
16. Homing (in on) : ZEROING
18. 68-Down : NEW YORK’S AREA CODE
20. Tropical black bird : ANI
21. Number between cinque and sette : SEI
22. Economic crisis : PANIC
23. Exploit : DEED
25. Sporty auto feature : T-TOP
27. Commercial lead-in to film : LUCAS-
31. Let in or let on : ADMIT
33. Novelty singer/songwriter ___ Sherman : ALLAN
36. Symbol in the logo of the Democratic Socialists of America : ROSE
37. Starting : AS OF
39. Pile for a record company exec : DEMOS
41. Cancel : NIX
42. 68-Down with a slash inside it : LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY
46. Like 2001 : ODD
47. Relative whose name sounds like a city in France : NIECE
48. “Didn’t you get the ___?” : MEMO
49. Capital on the Dnieper : KIEV
51. Giggly outburst : TE-HEE
53. Development sites : WOMBS
56. One loitering : IDLER
58. Suffix with psych- : -OSIS
60. Term of address in “The Wizard of Id” : SIRE
61. Right-hand page : RECTO
64. Palindromic relative : SIS
66. Carpet quality : NAP
67. 68-Down with a degree sign after it : H2O’S BOILING POINT
72. Steak accompanier : A1 SAUCE
73. Like many classical statues : SEMINUDE
74. Some I.R.S. forms : W-2S
75. Dispirited : SAD
76. Send : TRANSMIT

Down

1. Powerhouse in curling : CANADA
2. Went on first : OPENED
3. Game show host with a shaved head : HOWIE MANDEL
4. Cambridgeshire cathedral city : ELY
5. Bush critters : ROOS
6. Old plume source : EGRET
7. 1986 Elton John love song : NIKITA
8. Lab instructors, often : TAS
9. Book after II Chronicles : EZRA
10. Sharp : KEEN
11. Holy ___ : GRAIL
12. Quinceañera attendee, perhaps : TIO
13. Expire : END
14. At least 35, for a U.S. president : AGE
17. Transpire : OCCUR
19. Alternative to TGI Fridays : APPLEBEE’S
24. CD part : DISC
26. Traditional : OLD SCHOOL
28. Timeshare unit, often : CONDOMINIUM
29. Section of The Economist : ASIA
30. Fetching : SEXY
32. Bugs Bunny or Jessica Rabbit : TOON
34. Self-reflective question : AM I?
35. Standard : NORM
38. Move like a moth : FLIT
40. Mishmash : STEW
42. Aesir trickster : LOKI
43. Terse admission : I DID
44. Once named : NEE
45. Med. insurance groups : HMOS
50. Vice ___ : VERSA
52. Former Disney exec Michael : EISNER
54. Soccer star Chastain : BRANDI
55. Snow White’s housemates, for instance : SEPTET
57. Teaser that may include pluses and minuses : REBUS
59. Summation symbol, in math : SIGMA
62. Part of a white script on a red can : COCA
63. Not up or down : TIED
65. Short drive : SPIN
67. Hem’s partner : HAW
68. Palindromic number : 212
69. Predecessor of the C.I.A. : OSS
70. German 101 verb : IST
71. Carry-___ (some luggage) : ONS

22 thoughts on “0131-19 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 19, Thursday”

  1. @Bill … I’m suspicious! Was 12:21 your actual time or are you checking to see if we’re paying attention?

    (Either way, I’m amused … 😜.)

  2. 22:55, but for Dave I’ll claim my time as 22:22…..

    I still run into people who say “vica versa”. That’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. I’ll add “lackSadaisical” and “anywayS” to that same list. Ugh.

    Best –

    1. Don’t get me started, Jeff: “totally unique”, “literally”, “brilliant”, “genius”, apostrophes before every “s”, random capitalization, “that being said”, media as singular, “irony” for “coincidence” Better stop. BP 200/199.

  3. In our paper the clue for 57D was an actual rebus consisting of “🐈+ A + (picture of logs) for catalogs, e.g.”

  4. 28:42 and 1 error.
    You work on a puzzle,you figure out the theme only to hit an area where all the obscure clues are jammed together and you need luck or crosses to solve, such as 27,36 across and 29 down.
    I kinda feel that this is no accident. It can be really discouraging for an amateur like myself.

  5. Fun to see numbers in the grid. Any reason why it doesn’t happen more often? And Jeff, I agree but I think those that mispronounce lackadaisical are inserting “lax” (lazy) instead of “lacks” bringing it in line ( in error) with its definition. Anyway, my day to nit-pick. I’ll add
    “voisterous” instead of boisterous to my list of teeth grinders.

  6. I thought that this puzzle was relatively easy when considering that it included the little 212 number trick.

    I was glad to learn about the illustrious background to A-1 Steak Sauce. I personally have never cared for A-1 since I can simply think of many other sauces that I prefer more. But it was nice to know about it’s royal origin.

    My newspaper also had the 57-Down rebus pictured out as Brian described above. But for me the “cat” and “log” pictures were printed so small that I could not make out what they were. They just looked like ink smudges to me. Nevertheless, that was my final fill and by that time I had all the crosses necessary in order to wind up with a perfect grid completion. Anytime I can complete a Thursday-level puzzle, I feel good about the accomplishment.

  7. Dale — Agree completely on the Thursday-level puzzle — I was very pleased with myself to finish (I won’t even mention time!).

    Bill — Indeed, “EKG” is very common here in the States, but when I used to work for the American Heart Association publications, we were required to use ECG.

  8. Couldn’t let a Thursday go by without some annoying, sophomoric trick (having three numbers tucked into one corner of the grid), could you?

    Shortz, you’re *killing* this once proud puzzle.

      1. @Tom M. … Why not, indeed?

        I think Eeyore has become a lurker here, occasionally emerging from the shadows to register his displeasure. (And now I have a curious yen to fire up my oven and “braise” something … 😜.)

  9. As someone who *likes* the gimmicky Thursday puzzles, I’d say this was an easy Thursday puzzle: The gimmick (throwing some appropriate numerals into the grid) wasn’t convoluted, as it can sometimes be in a Thursday puzzle. It was a nice that the constructor made the “1” square literally “1” in both directions and not an “I” square doing double-duty as “1” and “I”. It felt like a Monday puzzle with a Thursday gimmick!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.