0704-19 NY Times Crossword 4 Jul 19, Thursday

Constructed by: Jim Hilger
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): One Excellent Theme

Themed answers are common 3-word phrases in which letters starting and ending words are “overlapping” in the grid:

  • 17A Civil defense measure, concisely? : AIRAIDRILL (air raid drill)
  • 23A Recollection of something that just happened, concisely? : SHORTERMEMORY (short-term memory)
  • 50A Make a polite visit, concisely? : PAYOURESPECTS (pay your respects)
  • 59A “That. Was. A. Blast!,” concisely? : BESTIMEVER (best time ever)

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

Bill’s time: 8m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Number of countries between los Estados Unidos y Colombia : OCHO

“Estados Unidos” is Spanish for “United States”, and “Reino Unido” is Spanish for “United Kingdom”.

5 Cantina snacks : TAPAS

“Tapa” is the Spanish word for “lid”, and there is no clear rationale for why this word came to be used for an appetizer. There are lots of explanations cited, all of which seem to involve the temporary covering of one’s glass of wine with a plate or item of food to either preserve the wine or give one extra space at the table.

10 First name in 1950s comedy : DESI

Desi Arnaz has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One was placed to mark his contribution motion pictures, and the other for his work in television.

14 State bird of Minnesota : LOON

The common loon (also “great northern diver”) is the provincial bird of Ontario, and the state bird of Minnesota. The loon once appeared on Canadian $20 bills and also appears on the Canadian one-dollar coin, giving the coin the nickname “the loonie”.

15 Olympic champion Ohno : APOLO

Speed-skater Apolo Ohno has won more Winter Olympics medals than any other American. Ohno also did a great job winning the 2007 season of television’s “Dancing with the Stars”.

16 Watt or knot : UNIT

James Watt was a Scottish inventor. He figured prominently in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, largely due to the improvements he made to the fledgling steam engine. The SI unit of power is called the watt, and was named in his honor.

A knot (kt.) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour. Traditionally a vessel’s speed was determined by using a “chip log”. A chip log is made up of a wooden board attached to a line wrapped around a reel. The line (called a “log-line”) had knots tied in it at uniform spacings. To determine the vessel’s speed the board was thrown overboard and the line allowed to unroll. The speed was then the “number of knots” paid out in a fixed time interval.

29 Place to wear a tuxedo : PROM

A prom is a formal dance held upon graduation from high school (we call them “formals” over in Ireland). The term “prom” is short for “promenade”, the name given to a type of dance or ball.

Apparently, the style of men’s evening dress called a “tuxedo” was first worn to a country club event in 1886 in New York. The use of a dark dinner jacket without tails became fashionable at the club with the members, and the tradition spread from there. The country club was located in Tuxedo Park, New York, giving the style of dress its name.

36 “The Raven” monogram : EAP

The celebrated American writer Edgar Allan Poe (EAP) was born “Edgar Poe” in 1809 in Boston. Poe’s father abandoned Edgar and his two siblings after the death of their mother. As a result, Edgar was taken into the home of the Allan family in Richmond Virginia. His foster parents gave the future author the name “Edgar Allan Poe”.

“The Raven” is a narrative poem by Edgar Allan Poe that tells of a student who has lost the love of his life, Lenore. A raven enters the student’s bedchamber and perches on a bust of Pallas. The raven can talk, to the student’s surprise, but says nothing but the word “nevermore” (“quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’”). As the student questions all aspects of his life, the raven taunts him with the same comment, “nevermore”. Finally the student decides that his soul is trapped beneath the raven’s shadow and shall be lifted “nevermore” …

37 Pair in a salsa band : MARACAS

Maracas are percussion instruments that are native to Latin America. They are constructed from a dried shell, like that of a coconut, to which a handle is attached. The shell is filled with dried seeds or beans, and shaken.

40 Figure skater Midori : ITO

Midori Ito is a Japanese figure skater. Ito was the first woman to land a triple/triple jump and a triple axel in competition. In fact, she landed her first triple jump in training when she was only 8 years old. Ito won Olympic silver in 1992, and was chosen as the person to light the Olympic cauldron at the commencement of the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

43 Campaign-supporting grp. : PAC

A political action committee (PAC) is a private group that works to influence the outcome of a particular election or group of elections. Any group becomes a PAC by law when it receives or spends more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election. In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that PACS that did not make direct contributions to candidates or parties could accept unlimited contributions. These “independent, expenditure-only committees” are commonly referred to as “super PACs”.

54 Christina on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” : AGUILERA

Christina Aguilera is a singer who got her start on television’s “Star Search”. From there she took a role on Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club”. Like several singers today it seems, Aguilera developed a more provocative alter ego for herself. She had a few body piercings, dyed her hair black and adopted the name “Xtina”.

55 “Great job!” : BRAVO!

To express appreciation for a male performer at an operatic performance, traditionally one calls out “bravo!”. Appreciation for a female performer is shown by using “brava!”, and for more than one performer of either sex by using “bravi!”

58 Fifth Avenue concern : SAKS

Saks Fifth Avenue is a high-end specialty store that competes with the likes of Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus. The original Saks & Company business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1867. The first Saks Fifth Avenue store was opened on Fifth Avenue in New York City in 1924. There are now Saks Fifth Avenue stores in many major cities in the US, as well in several locations worldwide.

64 Dinar spender : SERB

Serbia is a landlocked country in southeast Europe. After WWII, Serbia became one of several states making up the nation called Yugoslavia. Serbia became independent again in 2006 as Yugoslavia broke up after the declaration of independence by Montenegro.

The dinar is the official currency in many countries, such as Iraq, Tunisia and Serbia. The gold dinar dates back to the early days of Islam, with the name deriving from the Roman currency called “denarius” meaning “ten times” (as it was originally a coin worth ten asses).

66 Defense alliance from 1954 to ’77 : SEATO

The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) was set up in 1954, a defense organization with the mission to block communist influence growing in Southeast Asia. The driving force behind the organization’s creation was President Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John Dulles. The list of SEATO members included Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK and the US. The organization was never really considered effective and it fell apart in 1977 largely due to a lack of interest by the members.

67 Sp. titles : SRAS

The equivalent of “Mrs.” in French is “Mme.” (Madame), in Spanish is “Sra.” (Señora) and in Portuguese is also “Sra.” (Senhora).

Down

1 Count in Lemony Snicket books : OLAF

Count Olaf is the antagonist in “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, the collection of children’s novels penned by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of Daniel Handler).

2 Tesla ___ : COIL

A Tesla coil is used to create the high voltages needed to ionize air in those pyrotechnic shows where sparks jump from globe to globe. The same technology was used up to the twenties in spark-gap radio transmitters, which were central to wireless telegraphy back then.

3 Astrological creation : HOROSCOPE

A natal horoscope or natal chart is an astrological map that is built around the exact time and location of an individual’s birth. The chart shows the position of the astrologically relevant celestial bodies at that time. The term “horoscope” ultimately comes from Greek, with “hora” meaning “hour, season” and “skopos” meaning “watcher, what is watched”.

4 Just because : ON A WHIM

“Whim”, meaning “sudden fancy”, is such a lovely word, and one that we’ve been using in English since the 1640s. “Whim” is actually a shortened form of “whimwham”, which has a similar meaning and has been around since the early 1500s.

6 4/ : APR

The exact etymology of “April”, the name of the fourth month of our year, seems to be uncertain. The ancient Romans called it “mensis Aprilis”, which roughly translated as “opening month”. The suggestion is that April is the month in which fruits, flowers and animals “open” their life cycles.

7 Aplomb : POISE

“Aplomb” is such a lovely word, one meaning “confidence, assurance”. It is a French word that literally means “perpendicularity”, or “on the plumb line”. The idea is that someone with aplomb is poised, upright, balanced.

11 Calendario commencer : ENERO

In Spanish, we start the “año” (year) in “enero” (January) as noted on a “calendario” (calendar).

12 Musical instrument whose name means “three strings” : SITAR

The sitar has been around since the Middle Ages. It is a stringed instrument that is played by plucking, and is used most often in Hindustani classical music. In the West we have been exposed to the instrument largely through the performances of Ravi Shankar and some music by George Harrison of the Beatles, a onetime student of Shankar.

13 Four-time World Cup champion : ITALY

The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the sport of soccer. The competition has been held every four years (excluding the WWII years) since the inaugural event held in Uruguay in 1930. The men’s World Cup is the most widely viewed sporting event in the world, even outranking the Olympic Games.

18 How a tie may be broken, in brief : IN OT

In overtime (In OT)

22 Whale constellation : CETUS

Cetus is a constellation named after a sea monster from Greek mythology. Today, Cetus is often called “the Whale”.

24 ___ Shah Pahlavi, former leader of Iran : REZA

The last Shah of Iran was Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. The post-revolution government sought the extradition of the Shah back to Iran while he was in the United States seeking medical care (he had cancer). His prolonged stay in the United States, recovering from surgery, caused some unrest back in Iran and resentment towards the United States. Some say that this resentment precipitated the storming of the US Embassy in Tehran and the resulting hostage crisis.

25 Title based on the name “Caesar” : TSAR

The term “czar” (also “tsar”) is a Slavic word that was first used as a title by Simeon I of Bulgaria in 913 AD. “Czar” is derived from the word “Caesar”, which was synonymous with “emperor” at that time.

26 Relative of a foil : EPEE

The sword known as an épée has a three-sided blade. The épée is similar to a foil and sabre, although the foil and saber have rectangular cross-sections.

27 Cavity revealer : X-RAY

X-rays were first studied comprehensively by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen (also “Roentgen”), and it was he who gave the name “X-rays” to this particular type of radiation. Paradoxically, in Röntgen’s native language of German, X-rays are routinely referred to as “Röntgen rays”. In 1901, Röntgen’s work on X-rays won him the first Nobel Prize in Physics that was ever awarded.

34 Old Roman course : ITER

“Iter” is the Latin for “road”.

37 Bump in a ski run : MOGUL

Moguls are the series of bumps in the surface of snow that arise naturally as a succession of skiers make turns on a slope.

38 Cartoonist who created Fearless Fosdick : CAPP

“Fearless Fosdick” is a comic strip that appears within the Al Capp strip “Li’l Abner”. “Fearless Fosdick” is a parody of the “competing” strip drawn by Chester Gould called “Dick Tracy”.

42 Lao-tzu and others : TAOISTS

Lao Tse (also “Lao-Tzu”) was a central figure in the development of the religion/philosophy of Taoism. Tradition holds that Lao-Tzu wrote the “Tao Te Ching”, a classical Chinese text that is fundamental to the philosophy of Taoism.

44 Somers or Winters : ACTRESS

Suzanne Somers is an actress whose big break came playing the ditzy Chrissy Snow on the sitcom “Three’s Company”. When contracts came up for renewal for the cast in the fifth season, the relationship between Somers and the producers soured rapidly. Somers went on a strike of sorts and for most of the fifth season made only token appearances in the show in scenes that were filmed without other members of the regular cast. The Chrissy Snow character was replaced in the sixth season.

Shelley Winters was an actress from St. Louis, Missouri who won two Oscars: for “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959) and “A Patch of Blue” (1965). Winters’ first Academy Award has been on display in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam since the actress donated it to the museum.

46 Southernmost active volcano on earth : EREBUS

Mount Erebus is a volcano that is located on Ross Island in Antarctica. Erebus is the second-highest on the continent, after Mount Sidley. It was discovered in 1841 by Sir James Clark Ross, along with the companion volcano Mount Terror. Ross named the peaks for the ships used on his voyage: HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

49 Silo filler, in brief : ICBM

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is a ballistic missile with the range necessary to cross between continents. Being ballistic (unlike a cruise missile), an ICBM is guided during the initial launch phase, but later in flight just relies on thrust and gravity to arrive at its target. It is defined as intercontinental as it has a range greater than 3,500 miles. ICBMs are really only used for delivering nuclear warheads. Scary stuff …

50 No longer either hot or cool? : PASSE

“Passé” is a French word, meaning “past, faded”. We’ve imported the term into English, and use it in the same sense.

52 River to the Bering Sea : YUKON

Canada’s federal territory known as Yukon takes its name from the Yukon River. “Yukon” means “Big Stream” in the local Gwich’in language.

The Bering Sea, in the very north of the Pacific Ocean, is named for the Danish navigator Vitus Bering, who was the first European to systematically explore the area in 1728. Many believe that the first humans arrived in the Americas from Asia when the waters of the Bering Sea were lower during the last ice age, over what is known as the Bering land bridge.

53 One of the Obamas : SASHA

Sasha is the younger of the two Obama children, having been born in 2001. She was the youngest child to reside in the White House since John F. Kennedy, Jr. moved in with his parents as a small infant. Sasha’s Secret Service codename is “Rosebud”, and her older sister Malia has the codename “Radiance”.

56 Aloe ___ : VERA

Aloe vera has a number of alternate names that are descriptive of its efficacy as a medicine. ancient Egyptians knew it as the plant of immortality, and Native Americans called it the wand of heaven.

60 Small songbird : TIT

The birds known as chickadees or titmice in North America, are usually called simply “tits” in the rest of the English-speaking world.

61 Wall St. news : IPO

An initial public offering (IPO) is the very first offer of stock for sale by a company on the open market. In other words, an IPO marks the first time that a company is traded on a public exchange. Companies have an IPO to raise capital to expand (usually).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Number of countries between los Estados Unidos y Colombia : OCHO
5 Cantina snacks : TAPAS
10 First name in 1950s comedy : DESI
14 State bird of Minnesota : LOON
15 Olympic champion Ohno : APOLO
16 Watt or knot : UNIT
17 Civil defense measure, concisely? : AIRAIDRILL (air raid drill)
19 ___ good example : SET A
20 Taken off : FLOWN
21 Ghostly : SPECTRAL
23 Recollection of something that just happened, concisely? : SHORTERMEMORY (short-term memory)
26 Revs up : EXCITES
28 Not fooled by : ONTO
29 Place to wear a tuxedo : PROM
30 Make an evasive maneuver : ZAG
32 Illuminated eerily, perhaps : UPLIT
36 “The Raven” monogram : EAP
37 Pair in a salsa band : MARACAS
40 Figure skater Midori : ITO
41 With an ___ the future : EYE TO
43 Campaign-supporting grp. : PAC
44 Some : A FEW
45 A long stretch : AGES
48 Department store staffers : PRICERS
50 Make a polite visit, concisely? : PAYOURESPECTS (pay your respects)
54 Christina on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” : AGUILERA
55 “Great job!” : BRAVO!
58 Fifth Avenue concern : SAKS
59 “That. Was. A. Blast!,” concisely? : BESTIMEVER (best time ever)
62 Dry cleaner’s challenge : SPOT
63 Squaresville : UNHIP
64 Dinar spender : SERB
65 Dark periods, in poetry : E’ENS
66 Defense alliance from 1954 to ’77 : SEATO
67 Sp. titles : SRAS

Down

1 Count in Lemony Snicket books : OLAF
2 Tesla ___ : COIL
3 Astrological creation : HOROSCOPE
4 Just because : ON A WHIM
5 Tiny amount : TAD
6 4/ : APR
7 Aplomb : POISE
8 Sports standout : ALL-PRO
9 Grave : SOLEMN
10 Aid in tidying up the house : DUST MOP
11 Calendario commencer : ENERO
12 Musical instrument whose name means “three strings” : SITAR
13 Four-time World Cup champion : ITALY
18 How a tie may be broken, in brief : IN OT
22 Whale constellation : CETUS
24 ___ Shah Pahlavi, former leader of Iran : REZA
25 Title based on the name “Caesar” : TSAR
26 Relative of a foil : EPEE
27 Cavity revealer : X-RAY
31 Breach : GAP
33 Godsend : LIFESAVER
34 Old Roman course : ITER
35 Garage services : TOWS
37 Bump in a ski run : MOGUL
38 Cartoonist who created Fearless Fosdick : CAPP
39 Part of a spread : ACRE
42 Lao-tzu and others : TAOISTS
44 Somers or Winters : ACTRESS
46 Southernmost active volcano on earth : EREBUS
47 Tranquil : SERENE
49 Silo filler, in brief : ICBM
50 No longer either hot or cool? : PASSE
51 Showing amazement : AGAPE
52 River to the Bering Sea : YUKON
53 One of the Obamas : SASHA
56 Aloe ___ : VERA
57 Planets and moons : ORBS
60 Small songbird : TIT
61 Wall St. news : IPO

2 thoughts on “0704-19 NY Times Crossword 4 Jul 19, Thursday”

  1. 16:35. Happy Birthday, America. Pretty tame by Thursday standards. only issue is I initially kept wanting to spell MARACA like the country of Morocco….

    Best –

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