0415-19 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 19, Monday

Constructed by: Patrick Blindauer & Samuel A. Donaldson
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: IRS

Happy Tax Day! Themed answers include the letters “IRS” arranged in different orders, “reformed”:

  • 69A Tax org. undergoing some “reform” in this puzzle’s circled squares : IRS
  • 18A It flows from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal : GANGES RIVER
  • 20A Piece of sports equipment with strings : TENNIS RACKET
  • 36A “If memory serves …” : AS I RECALL …
  • 55A Where heads of the Pacific are found? : EASTER ISLAND
  • 60A $ $ $ : DOLLAR SIGNS

Read on, or jump to …
… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 4m 38s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

17 Gun advocacy grp. : NRA

National Rifle Association (NRA)

18 It flows from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal : GANGES RIVER

The River Ganges rises in the western Himalaya and flows through the northeast of India before crossing into Bangladesh where it enters the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges is worshipped by Hindus as the goddess Ganga, and is the most sacred of all rivers in Hinduism.

The magnificent Himalaya range of mountains in Asia takes its name from the Sanskrit for “abode of snow”. Geographically, the Himalayas separate the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau to the north.

20 Piece of sports equipment with strings : TENNIS RACKET

Our modern sport of tennis evolved from the much older racquet sport known as “real tennis”. Originally just called “tennis”, the older game was labeled “real tennis” when the modern version began to hold sway. Real tennis is played in a closed court, with the ball frequently bounced off the walls.

23 Back-to-school mo. : SEP

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.

28 Greek goddess of the hunt : ARTEMIS

Artemis was an ancient Greek goddess, and the equivalent of the Roman goddess Diana. Artemis was also a daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Among other things, she was the goddess of the hunt, and so often is depicted carrying a bow and arrows.

33 Coke or 7Up : SODA

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.

7UP was introduced to the world as “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”, and was a patent medicine that contained lithium citrate, a mood-stabilizing drug. The introduction of a mood-stabilizing medication was pretty timely, as 1929 Wall Street Crash happened just two weeks later. 7UP’s “Uncola” advertising campaign dates back to 1967.

35 Summer zodiac sign : LEO

Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac. People born from July 23 to August 22 are Leos.

40 Nada : ZIP

The use of the words “zip” and “zippo” to mean “nothing” dates back to the early 1900s, when it was student slang for being graded zero on a test.

“Nada” is the Spanish word for “nothing”. “De nada” translates literally from the Spanish as “of nothing”, and is used to mean “you’re welcome” or “don’t mention it”. The French have the same expression “de rien”, also translating to “of nothing” and used the same way.

43 Black gemstone : ONYX

Onyx is a form of quartz that comes in many different shades, but most often it’s the black version that’s used for jewelry. The name “onyx” comes from the Greek word for “fingernail”, as onyx in the flesh color is said to resemble a fingernail.

47 Firm, as pasta : AL DENTE

The Italian expression “al dente” literally means “to the tooth” or “to the bite” and is used to describe not only pasta, but also vegetables that are cooked so that they are tender and yet still crisp.

52 Work of Shakespeare : PLAY

William Shakespeare is referred to as the Bard of Avon, as he was born and raised in the lovely town of Stratford-upon-Avon in the English Midlands.

53 “Norma ___” (1979 film) : RAE

“Norma Rae” is a 1979 movie starring Sally Field as Norma Rae Webster in a tale of union activities in a textile factory in Alabama. The film is based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton told in a 1975 book called “Crystal Lee, a Woman of Inheritance”.

54 German article : EINE

The definite article in German is der, die or das, for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns. The indefinite article is ein, eine or ein, again depending on the gender of the noun. A further complication, relative to English, is that the masculine form (and only the masculine form) of the article changes when used in the accusative case, when used with the object of a sentence. The accusative forms are “den” and “einen”.

55 Where heads of the Pacific are found? : EASTER ISLAND

“Rapa Nui” is the Polynesian name for what we are more likely to call “Easter Island”. The European name was coined by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who came across the island on Easter Sunday in the year 1722. Chilean-owned Easter Island is inhabited and is a location that is remarkably distant from neighboring civilization. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn Island, which is almost 1300 miles away.

60 $ $ $ : DOLLAR SIGNS

The dollar sign ($) was first used for the Spanish American peso, in the late 18th century. The peso was also called the “Spanish dollar” (and “piece of eight”). The Spanish dollar was to become the model for the US dollar that was adopted in 1785, along with the dollar sign.

63 PBS-funding org. : NEA

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an agency funded by the federal government that offers support and financing for artistic projects. The NEA was created by an Act of Congress in 1965. Between 1965 and 2008, the NEA awarded over $4 billion to the arts, with Congress authorizing around $170 million annually through the eighties and much of the nineties. That funding was cut to less than $100 million in the late nineties due to pressure from conservatives concerned about the use of funds, but it is now back over the $150 million mark. I wonder how long that will last though …

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was founded in 1970, and is my favorite of the broadcast networks. I love PBS’s drama and science shows in particular, and always watch election results coming in with the NewsHour team.

64 Singer Flack with the 1973 hit “Killing Me Softly With His Song” : ROBERTA

I suppose the most famous song released by American singer Roberta Flack is her 1972 hit “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, a beautiful number composed by British singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl in 1957. MacColl wrote the song for American singer Peggy Seeger, whom he later married.

65 Serve that nicks the net : LET

That could be tennis, for example,

66 Paving goo : TAR

The terms “tarmac” and “macadam” are short for “tarmacadam”. In the 1800s, Scotsman John Loudon McAdam developed a style of road known as “macadam”. Macadam had a top-layer of crushed stone and gravel laid over larger stones. The macadam also had a convex cross-section so that water tended to drain to the sides. In 1901, a significant improvement was made by English engineer Edgar Purnell Hooley who introduced tar into the macadam, improving the resistance to water damage and practically eliminating dust. The “tar-penetration macadam” is the basis of what we now call tarmac.

68 CPR sites : ERS

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

69 Tax org. undergoing some “reform” in this puzzle’s circled squares : IRS

April 15th wasn’t always Tax Day in the US. The deadline for returns was March 1st from 1913-18, when it was moved to March 15th. Tax Day has been April 15th since 1955.

Down

1 Iran-___ (1980s scandal) : CONTRA

The Iran-Contra affair (also called “Irangate”) came to light in 1986. The “Iran” part of the scandal was the sale of arms to Iran by the Reagan administration, initially to facilitate the release of US hostages. This was done in secret largely because there was ostensibly a US arms embargo in place against Iran. The “Contra” part of the scandal arose when the man in charge of the operation, Oliver North, took funds from the arms sales and funneled the cash to the Contra militants who were fighting to topple the government in Nicaragua.

4 O. Henry’s “The Gift of the ___” : MAGI

O. Henry’s short story called “The Gift of the Magi” was first published in 1905. It tells of relatively poor, newly-married couple who want to buy each other a gift for Christmas. The wife’s pride and joy is her long blonde hair, while the husband’s most treasured possession is his grandfather’s gold pocket watch. The wife sells her hair to buy her gift, and the husband sells his watch to buy his gift for his spouse. The wife is given a set of combs, hair accessories that are useless now that her hair is short. The husband gets a platinum fob chain for the watch that he no longer owns.

5 Court great Andre : AGASSI

Retired tennis professional Andre Agassi has been married to fellow player Steffi Graf since 2001. Agassi wrote an autobiography called “Open”, published in 2009. An amazing revelation in the book is that Agassi’s famous head of hair was actually a wig for much of his playing career. Can you imagine how hard it must have been to play tennis at his level with a rug stuck on?

7 Actor Guinness : ALEC

Sir Alec Guinness played many great roles over a long and distinguished career, but nowadays is best remembered (sadly, I think) for playing the original Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars”.

9 Relative of a rabbit : HARE

Hares belong to the genus Lepus, and young hares under one-year-old are called leverets.

12 “But I heard him exclaim, ___ he drove out of sight …” : ERE

Here are the closing lines to the Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

13 Byelorussia, e.g.: Abbr. : SSR

Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR)

The country that we now know as Belarus was called the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in the days of the Soviet Union.

19 Cumberland ___ : GAP

The Cumberland Gap is a pass in the Appalachian Mountains, lying at the point where the three states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia meet. The pass was long used by Native Americans, before being discovered by explorer Thomas Walker in 1750. The path through the gap was widened by a team of loggers in 1775, and leading the work party was the American pioneer Daniel Boone.

30 Prop you might drop : MIC

A mic drop takes place when a performer has done particularly well and decides to celebrate by throwing or dropping the microphone to the floor. That doesn’t seem to happen at the performances I tend to frequent …

31 Savings for the golden years, for short : IRA

Individual retirement account (IRA)

32 Airline whose name is a Greek letter : DELTA

Delta was the world’s largest airline for a while (after merging with Northwest Airlines in 2008) and is also the oldest airline still operating in the US. Delta’s roots go back to 1924 before it started carrying passengers and was called Huff Daland Dusters, a crop dusting company based in Macon, Georgia. The name Delta Air Service was introduced in 1928.

34 Evil spell : HEX

“Hexen” is a German word meaning “to practice witchcraft”. The use of the word “hex” in English started with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s.

37 QB miscue: Abbr. : INT

Interception (Int.)

42 Holding hands or kissing on the street, for short : PDA

Public display of affection (PDA)

45 Italian red wine : CHIANTI

Chianti is a red wine from the Chianti region of central Tuscany in Italy. Historically, Chianti was stored in a characteristically bulbous bottle wrapped in a straw basket. However, the pragmatists have won the day and regular wine bottles tend to be used nowadays.

46 Actor Greg of “Little Miss Sunshine” : KINNEAR

Greg Kinnear is a favorite actor of mine, probably best recognized for his Oscar-nominated performance in the excellent film “As Good as it Gets” from 1997.

“Little Miss Sunshine” is a respected 2006 comedy film about a family’s road trip in a VW bus. I tried watching this one a couple of times and just couldn’t take it at all despite a great cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin.

50 Rob who directed “The Princess Bride” : REINER

The great director and actor Rob Reiner first came to prominence playing “Meathead”, Archie and Edith Bunker’s son-in-law in “All in the Family”. Since then, Reiner has directed a long string of hit movies including, “The Princess Bride”, “Stand by Me”, “This Is Spinal Tap”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “Misery” and “A Few Good Men”.

“The Princess Bride” is a novel by William Goldman written in 1973. Famously, the book was adapted into a 1987 film of the same name directed by Rob Reiner that has become a cult classic.

51 Evergreens with fragrant wood : CEDARS

Cedar is used for the manufacture of some wardrobes and chests as it has long been believed that the fragrant oil in the wood is a moth-repellent. However, whether or not cedar oil is actually effective at keeping moths away seems to be in doubt.

53 Big outdoor gear retailer : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

56 Senior party? : AARP

“AARP” is now the official name for the interest group that used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons. The name change reflects the current focus of the group on all Americans aged 50 or over, as opposed to just people who have retired.

59 Old Concordes, in brief : SSTS

The most famous supersonic transport (SST) is the retired Concorde. The Concorde routinely broke the sound barrier, and cruised at about twice the speed of sound. Above Mach 2, frictional heat would cause the plane’s aluminum airframe to soften, so airspeed was limited.

62 Certain Wall St. acquisition, for short : LBO

A leveraged buyout (LBO) is a transaction in which an investor acquires a controlling volume of stock in a company, but buys that stock with borrowed funds (hence “leveraged”). Often the assets of the acquired company are used as collateral for the borrowed money. There is a special form of LBO known as a management buyout (MBO) in which the company’s own management team purchase the controlling interest.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Filming device, for short : CAM
4 Men’s Health or Women’s Health, for short : MAG
7 Sticks (to) : ADHERES
14 Mined rocks : ORE
15 Years that one has lived : AGE
16 Presidents and prime ministers : LEADERS
17 Gun advocacy grp. : NRA
18 It flows from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal : GANGES RIVER
20 Piece of sports equipment with strings : TENNIS RACKET
22 First-___ (best) : RATE
23 Back-to-school mo. : SEP
24 Relaxation : EASE
28 Greek goddess of the hunt : ARTEMIS
30 Reference point during a piano lesson : MIDDLE C
33 Coke or 7Up : SODA
34 Bring into the company : HIRE
35 Summer zodiac sign : LEO
36 “If memory serves …” : AS I RECALL …
40 Nada : ZIP
43 Black gemstone : ONYX
44 Bulletin board fastener : TACK
47 Firm, as pasta : AL DENTE
49 Fully illustrated, as a novel : GRAPHIC
52 Work of Shakespeare : PLAY
53 “Norma ___” (1979 film) : RAE
54 German article : EINE
55 Where heads of the Pacific are found? : EASTER ISLAND
60 $ $ $ : DOLLAR SIGNS
63 PBS-funding org. : NEA
64 Singer Flack with the 1973 hit “Killing Me Softly With His Song” : ROBERTA
65 Serve that nicks the net : LET
66 Paving goo : TAR
67 Reached the golf course standard : SHOT PAR
68 CPR sites : ERS
69 Tax org. undergoing some “reform” in this puzzle’s circled squares : IRS

Down

1 Iran-___ (1980s scandal) : CONTRA
2 Behind in payments, after “in” : ARREARS
3 Did intentionally : MEANT TO
4 O. Henry’s “The Gift of the ___” : MAGI
5 Court great Andre : AGASSI
6 Blues and rock, for two : GENRES
7 Actor Guinness : ALEC
8 Schoolroom assignment : DESK
9 Relative of a rabbit : HARE
10 Revised, as copy : EDITED
11 Gun, as an engine : REV
12 “But I heard him exclaim, ___ he drove out of sight …” : ERE
13 Byelorussia, e.g.: Abbr. : SSR
19 Cumberland ___ : GAP
21 “Boy, do I ___ drink!” : NEED A
25 Nothing’s opposite : ALL
26 “Didn’t I tell you?” : SEE?
27 Green: Prefix : ECO-
29 Worker with a trowel : MASON
30 Prop you might drop : MIC
31 Savings for the golden years, for short : IRA
32 Airline whose name is a Greek letter : DELTA
34 Evil spell : HEX
37 QB miscue: Abbr. : INT
38 Loaf that might have seeds : RYE
39 Place to pin a pink ribbon : LAPEL
40 Stick in the microwave : ZAP
41 Sick : ILL
42 Holding hands or kissing on the street, for short : PDA
45 Italian red wine : CHIANTI
46 Actor Greg of “Little Miss Sunshine” : KINNEAR
48 Hole for a lace : EYELET
49 Use mouthwash : GARGLE
50 Rob who directed “The Princess Bride” : REINER
51 Evergreens with fragrant wood : CEDARS
53 Big outdoor gear retailer : REI
56 Senior party? : AARP
57 Mex. title that’s an anagram of 58-Down : SRTA
58 Old Russian title that’s an anagram of 57-Down : TSAR
59 Old Concordes, in brief : SSTS
60 Hosp. V.I.P.s : DRS
61 Awed reaction : OOH!
62 Certain Wall St. acquisition, for short : LBO

10 thoughts on “0415-19 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 19, Monday”

      1. @Steve … @Anonymous has the right of it. (I don’t much care for the term “snot” used that way, but hey, it’s a thing.)

  1. 8:50. Both the NYT and LAT had IRS themes today, tax day. I wish they’d stop reminding me. A day of tax related headaches ahead for me.

    Best –

  2. Ditto to BruceB’s comment. I found today’s IRS theme to be mostly uninteresting. But if I had actually been working this on April 15th then it would have had much more relevance.

    Otherwise, I thought that the puzzle was a good, tight construction. I got a nice chuckle out of the “heads of the Pacific” being found on Easter Island.

    Actually, those “heads” do have bodies. The lower parts of the statues were covered up with sediment for many years and have only recently been restored to their original array.

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