0319-19 NY Times Crossword 19 Mar 19, Tuesday

Constructed by: Daniel Larsen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): A to Z

Themed answers hide strings of letters that collectively comprise the whole alphabet as we progress through the grid:

  • 18A Simple, simple, simple [1,2,3] : EASY AS ABC
  • 19A Half of the rap duo Black Star [4,5,6] : MOS DEF
  • 27A Prefight ritual [7,8,9] : WEIGH-IN
  • 29A Singer with the 2010 3x platinum single “All I Do Is Win” [10,11] : DJ KHALED
  • 42A Dark movie genre [12,13,14,15] : FILM NOIR
  • 53A Substitute for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, informally [16,17] : BACKUP QB
  • 55A Silly marketing ploy designed to get attention [18,19,20] : PR STUNT
  • 66A Tiny bit of sunlight, for short [21,22,23] : UV WAVE
  • 68A Diplomatic controversy of the 1790s [24,25,26] : XYZ AFFAIR

Bill’s time: 7m 05s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

17 Shaky beginning? : SEISMO-

The combining form “seismo-” means “earthquake”, and comes from “seismos”, the Greek for “earthquake”.

19 Half of the rap duo Black Star [4,5,6] : MOS DEF

Mos Def is the former stage name of actor and rapper Dante Terrell Smith-Bay, now known as Yasiin Bey. Mos Def is one of the few rap stars who is really making a name for himself in the world of movies. He received critical acclaim for roles in 2003’s “The Italian Job” , 2005’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and for a featured role in an episode of television’s “House”.

Black Star is a hip hop duo composed of rappers Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Talib Kweli. The pair got together in Brooklyn, New York in 1997.

21 Gilbert of “The Conners” : SARA

The actress Sara Gilbert grew up playing Darlene on the sitcom “Roseanne” from 1988 to 1997. Today Gilbert appears fairly often on another hit sitcom, namely “The Big Bang Theory”. You can also see her on the daytime talk show called “The Talk”, a show that she herself created. And, she made a comeback as Darlene in 2018 in the “Roseanne” reboot(s).

23 Santa’s “gift” for bad children : COAL

Apparently, the tradition of putting coal in the Christmas stocking of a poorly-behaved child comes simply from the proximity of the stocking (hanging on the fireplace) to a source of coal!

34 Gambling locale : RENO

The city of Reno’s economy took off when open gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931. Within a short time, a syndicate had built the Bank Club in Reno, which was the largest casino in the world at the time.

35 Greek T’s : TAUS

Tau is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet, and the letter which gave rise to our Roman “T”. Both the letters tau (T) and chi (X) have long been symbolically associated with the cross.

37 Ban competitor : ARRID

Arrid is an antiperspirant deodorant brand introduced in the thirties. Slogans associated with Arrid have been “Don’t be half-safe – use Arrid to be sure”, “Stress stinks! Arrid works!” and “Get a little closer”.

41 Response to a court oath : I DO

Do you solemnly (swear/affirm) that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, (so help you God/under pains and penalties of perjury)?

42 Dark movie genre [12,13,14,15] : FILM NOIR

The expression “film noir” has French origins, but only in that it was coined by a French critic in describing a style of Hollywood film. The term, meaning “black film” in French, was first used by Nino Frank in 1946. Film noir often applies to a movie with a melodramatic plot and a private eye or detective at its center. Good examples would be “The Big Sleep” and “D.O.A”.

45 Stat for a pitcher : ERA

Earned run average (ERA)

48 Capital of West Germany : BONN

After WWII, Bonn was chosen as the capital of West Germany. That choice was promoted by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who was from the area. After German reunification, the nation’s capital was moved to Berlin.

49 Island party : LUAU

Nowadays the word “luau” denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of poi, the bulbous underground stems of taro.

50 Emperor who rebuilt Rome after it burned : NERO

The Great Fire of Rome raged for five and a half days in 64 AD. Of the fourteen districts of Rome, three were completely destroyed and seven more suffered serious damage. The emperor at the time was Nero, although reports that he fiddled, played his lyre or sang while the city burned; those accounts are probably not true. In fact, Nero was staying outside of Rome when the fire started and rushed home on hearing the news. He organized a massive relief effort, throwing open his own home to give shelter to many of the citizens who were left living on the street.

53 Substitute for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, informally [16,17] : BACKUP QB

Quarterback Tom Brady signed up with the New England Patriots in 2000, and led the team to more Super Bowl appearances than any other player in history. Brady is from San Mateo, California, which isn’t very far from here. He dated actress Bridget Moynahan for a couple of years, and the pair have a child together. Brady has been married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen since 2009.

Aaron Rodgers signed with the Green Bay Packers as quarterback in 2005. Aaron has a younger brother Jordan who played football with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

55 Silly marketing ploy designed to get attention [18,19,20] : PR STUNT

Public relations (PR)

66 Tiny bit of sunlight, for short [21,22,23] : UV WAVE

At either end of the visible light spectrum are the invisible forms of radiation known as infrared (IR) light and ultraviolet (UV) light. IR light lies just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum, and UV light lie just below the violet end.

68 Diplomatic controversy of the 1790s [24,25,26] : XYZ AFFAIR

During the administration of President John Adams, there was a drawn-out exchange between three American and three French diplomats in an attempt to avoid war between the two countries. The French diplomats made demands that were considered insulting by the US. Documents released by the Adams administration denoted the three French diplomats simply as X, Y and Z. There was public outcry when the documents were released and the demands disclosed, and the whole incident became known as the XYZ Affair. The end result was an undeclared war between the US and France with American ships capturing 80 vessels that flew the French flag.

71 Author of “Faust” : GOETHE

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer (among many other things). Goethe’s most famous work is probably his play “Faust”. This epic work was published in parts, starting in 1808. The work was only published in toto after his death in 1832.

72 Tutor of Alexander the Great : ARISTOTLE

Aristotle was actually a student of Plato in Ancient Greece (and in turn, Plato was a student of Socrates). Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great.

74 Patsies : SAPS

“Sap” is slang for “fool, someone easily scammed”. The term arose in the early 1800s in Britain when it was used in “saphead” and “sapskull”. All these words derive from “sapwood”, which is the softwood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.

The etymology of the word “patsy” meaning “fall guy” isn’t really understood. One colorful theory suggests that the term comes from an 1890s vaudeville character named Patsy Bolivar. Patsy always got the blame when something went wrong.

Down

2 Palm berry : ACAI

Açaí (pronounced “ass-aye-ee”) is a palm tree native to Central and South America. The fruit has become very popular in recent years and its juice is a very fashionable addition to juice mixes and smoothies.

3 Veteran’s woe, for short : PTSD

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

5 “___ Miz” : LES

The 1980 musical “Les Misérables” is an adaptation of the 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. The show opened in London in 1985, and is the longest running musical in the history of London’s West End. My wife and I saw “Les Miz” in the Queen’s Theatre in London many years ago, but were only able to get tickets in the very back row. The theater seating is very steep, so the back row of the balcony is extremely high over the stage. One of the big events in the storyline is the building of a street barricade over which the rebels fight. At the height we were seated we could see the stagehands behind the barricade, sitting drinking Coke, even smoking cigarettes. On cue, the stagehands would get up and catch a dropped rifle, or an actor who had been shot. It was pretty comical. I didn’t really enjoy the show that much, to be honest. Some great songs, but the musical version of the storyline just didn’t seem to hang together for me.

6 Room in a harem : ODA

Oda is the Turkish word for “room”, and is the name used for a room within a harem in the days of the Ottoman Empire. We use the derivative word “odalisque” for “a concubine” or “a chamber girl”.

“Harem” is a Turkish word derived from the Arabic for “forbidden place”. Traditionally a harem was the female quarters in a household in which a man had more than one wife. Not only wives (and concubines) would use the harem, but also young children and other female relatives. The main point was that no men were allowed in the area.

8 Colorful parrot : MACAW

Macaws are beautifully colored birds of native to Central and South America, and are actually a type of parrot. Most species of macaw are now endangered, with several having become extinct in recent decades. The main threats are deforestation and illegal trapping and trafficking of exotic birds.

9 Post office service : US MAIL

The US Postal Service (USPS) is a remarkable agency in many ways. For starters, the government’s right and responsibility to establish the Post Office is specifically called out in Article One of the US constitution. Also, the first postmaster general was none other than Benjamin Franklin. And, the USPS operates over 200,000 vehicles, which is the largest vehicle fleet in the world.

10 Prefix with conservative : NEO-

By definition, a neoconservative (neocon) is a formerly left-aligned politician who has moved to the right, and who now supports the use of American power and military might to bring democracy, liberty, equality and human rights to other countries.

11 Bobby who defeated Boris Spassky at the 1972 World Chess Championship : FISCHER

American Bobby Fischer was one of the greatest chess players of all time, enjoying remarkable success from a very early age. Perhaps his most famous victory was against Boris Spassky in 1992, a match held in Yugoslavia. At that time, there was a strict embargo against the country, bringing Fischer into conflict with his own government in the US, after which he roamed the world, never to return home. He lived in Hungary, Germany, the Philippines and Japan, and finally in Iceland where he died in 2008 at 54 years of age

14 “Hilarious!,” online : ROFL!

Rolling on Floor Laughing (ROFL)

16 Kind of yoga : HATHA

Hatha yoga is a yoga system developed in 15th century India. Traditional Hatha yoga is a more “complete” practice than often encountered in the west, involving not just exercise but also meditation and relaxation. “Hatha” is a Sanskrit word meaning “force”.

22 Call, as a soccer game : REF

Back in the early 17th century, a referee was someone who examined patent applications. We started using the same term for a person presiding over a sporting event in the 1820s. “Referee” is derivative of the verb “to refer”, and literally describes someone who has the authority to make a decision by “referring to” a book, archive etc.

25 Some choir voices : ALTI

In choral music, an alto (plural “alti”) is the second-highest voice in a four-part chorus made up of soprano, contr(alto), tenor and bass. The word “alto” describes the vocal range, that of the deepest female singing-voice, whereas the term “contralto” describes more than just the alto range, but also its quality and timbre. An adult male’s voice (not a boy’s) with the same range as an alto is called a “countertenor”.

26 Repast : MEAL

Our word “repast”, meaning “meal”. came to us via French (in which language “repas” is “meal”). Ultimately the term comes from the Latin “repascere” meaning “to repeatedly graze”.

30 Obi-Wan Kenobi, for one : JEDI

The Jedi are the “good guys” in the “Star Wars” series of movies. The most famous Jedi knights from the films are Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Alec Guinness, and later Ewan McGregor) and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz). Well, they’re my favorites anyway …

31 Kentucky’s Fort ___ : KNOX

Fort Knox is actually a US Army base, but it lends its name to the adjacent facility that is more correctly called the United States Bullion Depository. Most of the US gold reserves are in “Fort Knox”, although it isn’t the biggest gold repository in the US. That honor goes to the vault under the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan. Most of the gold stored in the New York vault belongs to foreign nations and banks.

39 Where the Tigris and Euphrates flow : IRAQ

The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers run parallel to each other through Iraq and parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran. The fertile land between the rivers was known as Mesopotamia (Greek for “land between two rivers”).

44 Ancient speakers of Quechua : INCA

Quechua was the Native American language adopted by the Incan Empire and favored over other dialects. Today, Quechua is one of the official languages in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, alongside Spanish.

51 Coins in India : RUPEES

The rupee is a unit of currency used in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. The term “rupee” comes from the Sanskrit word “rupya”, which once meant “stamped, impressed” and then “coin”.

54 Big name in cheese : KRAFT

The Kraft brand name originated with Canadian James L. Kraft. It was James L. Kraft who first patented processed cheese

56 To whom a coxswain calls : ROWER

The coxswain of a boat is one in charge of steering and navigation. The word “coxswain” is shortened to “cox”, particularly when used for the person steering and calling out the stroke in a competition rowing boat.

57 Houston’s home : TEXAS

The city of Houston, Texas was named for General Sam Houston, who served as President of the Republic of Texas and then as Governor after Texas was annexed as a US state in 1845.

61 Vega’s constellation : LYRA

Lyra (Latin for “lyre, harp, lute”) is a constellation that includes the star Vega, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. The constellation Lyra is surrounded by the neighboring constellations of Draco, Hercules, Vulpecula and Cygnus.

67 DVD forerunner : VHS

The video standard known as VHS is more fully referred to as the Video Home System. VHS was one of many standards touted by various manufacturers in the seventies. The biggest rival to VHS was Betamax, but we all knew which of the two standards won the final round in that fight.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Places for baseball team insignia : CAPS
5 Weaver’s device : LOOM
9 Rigged : UNFAIR
15 Eight-sided solids : OCTAHEDRA
17 Shaky beginning? : SEISMO-
18 Simple, simple, simple [1,2,3] : EASY AS ABC
19 Half of the rap duo Black Star [4,5,6] : MOS DEF
20 Performed, to Shakespeare : DIDST
21 Gilbert of “The Conners” : SARA
23 Santa’s “gift” for bad children : COAL
24 “Pow!” : WHAM!
27 Prefight ritual [7,8,9] : WEIGH-IN
29 Singer with the 2010 3x platinum single “All I Do Is Win” [10,11] : DJ KHALED
33 Hightail it away : FLEE
34 Gambling locale : RENO
35 Greek T’s : TAUS
37 Ban competitor : ARRID
41 Response to a court oath : I DO
42 Dark movie genre [12,13,14,15] : FILM NOIR
45 Stat for a pitcher : ERA
46 Mischievous fairy : PIXIE
48 Capital of West Germany : BONN
49 Island party : LUAU
50 Emperor who rebuilt Rome after it burned : NERO
53 Substitute for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, informally [16,17] : BACKUP QB
55 Silly marketing ploy designed to get attention [18,19,20] : PR STUNT
58 Covers with black goo : TARS
59 Real comedian : RIOT
60 Hightail it away, with “out” : PEEL
62 When some lunches end : AT TWO
66 Tiny bit of sunlight, for short [21,22,23] : UV WAVE
68 Diplomatic controversy of the 1790s [24,25,26] : XYZ AFFAIR
71 Author of “Faust” : GOETHE
72 Tutor of Alexander the Great : ARISTOTLE
73 Underline : STRESS
74 Patsies : SAPS
75 “Phooey!” : RATS!

Down

1 Open to both men and women, as a college : COED
2 Palm berry : ACAI
3 Veteran’s woe, for short : PTSD
4 “Oh, yeah?” : SAYS WHO?
5 “___ Miz” : LES
6 Room in a harem : ODA
7 Crystal balls, e.g. : ORBS
8 Colorful parrot : MACAW
9 Post office service : US MAIL
10 Prefix with conservative : NEO-
11 Bobby who defeated Boris Spassky at the 1972 World Chess Championship : FISCHER
12 “Same here!” : AS DO I!
13 “Like … um …” : I MEAN …
14 “Hilarious!,” online : ROFL!
16 Kind of yoga : HATHA
22 Call, as a soccer game : REF
25 Some choir voices : ALTI
26 Repast : MEAL
28 Boots, mask, etc., for a firefighter : GEAR
29 Evidence of a leak : DRIP
30 Obi-Wan Kenobi, for one : JEDI
31 Kentucky’s Fort ___ : KNOX
32 Like a “doh!” moment : DUMB
36 Condescending sort : SNOB
38 Enlist again : RE-UP
39 Where the Tigris and Euphrates flow : IRAQ
40 Paint carelessly : DAUB
42 Parts of a yard : FEET
43 Go ___ great length : ON AT
44 Ancient speakers of Quechua : INCA
47 Like some tuition at public universities : IN-STATE
49 Hotly desire : LUST FOR
51 Coins in India : RUPEES
52 United : ONE
54 Big name in cheese : KRAFT
55 Change direction sharply : PIVOT
56 To whom a coxswain calls : ROWER
57 Houston’s home : TEXAS
59 Toupees, in slang : RUGS
61 Vega’s constellation : LYRA
63 “So long!” : TA-TA!
64 Droop from lack of water : WILT
65 Things assayers assay : ORES
67 DVD forerunner : VHS
69 “___ your lip!” : ZIP
70 Obstinate animal : ASS

10 thoughts on “0319-19 NY Times Crossword 19 Mar 19, Tuesday”

  1. 16:58. Found this one a little tricky, but I was half asleep last night when I did it. I’d be curious to see what specifically were those demands in the XYZ AFFAIR. Demands so outrageous they started a war? Wow.

    Best –

  2. 26:25 no errors…. The upper right corner slowed me down a bit.
    Fifteen years old ? WOW…….Look out David Steinberg

  3. 12:11, no errors. Impressive construction for a 15 year old, good work young man. Had read about the XYZ Affair, incredibly interesting early history of the U.S.

  4. No errors. I found this puzzle to be a somewhat difficult. I had worked about half of it before catching on to what the numbers meant. From there on the sequential alphabet gave me lots of help for the remaining fills.

    I too am amazed at the age of Daniel Larsen. Wow! I sincerely hope that the NYT editors will give us more from this bright young man!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.