0731-19 NY Times Crossword 31 Jul 19, Wednesday

Constructed by: Dan Caprera
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): X Marks the Spot

In the print version of today’s puzzle, there’s a picture of a skull in the top-left black square of the grid. And so, the grid is like a pirate’s treasure map, and themed answers guide us through it. We start at the skull, and end up at the letter X in the middle of the grid. X marks the spot:

  • 16A “Arr, matey! So ye seek buried treasure to fill yer ship’s hull? Well, the first clue is easy. Just ___” : START AT THE SKULL
  • 22A “At yer next clue already? Then off to the races! Now turn toward the dawn and go ___” : EAST TWELVE PACES
  • 49A “Aye, the treasure be heavy, so flex yer biceps! With this third clue, turn right and go ___” : SOUTH SEVEN STEPS
  • 58A “‘X’ marks the spot! Grab a spade! Dance a jig! Here’s the very last clue. Proceed ___” : WEST FIVE THEN DIG

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

Bill’s time: 11m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 1/16 of a cup: Abbr. : TBSP

Tablespoon (tbsp.)

5 Something to drool over? : BIB

The word “bib” comes from the Latin “bibere” meaning “to drink”, as does our word “imbibe”. So, maybe a bib is less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze …

8 Mr. of detective fiction : MOTO

The mysterious Mr. Moto is a Japanese secret agent who appears in six novels by American author, John P. Marquand. Mr. Moto was famously played by Peter Lorre in a series of eight films released in the 1930s.

13 Suffix with acetyl : -ENE

Acetylene is one of the simplest hydrocarbons, and has the formula C2H2. About 20% of the acetylene produced in the world is used for oxyacetylene gas welding and cutting.

14 “Scrubs” nurse married to Dr. Turk : CARLA

Judy Reyes is an actress best known for her TV roles, playing Carla Espinosa on “Scrubs” and Zoila Diaz on “Devious Maids”.

“Scrubs” is a comedy-drama TV show set in a fictional hospital. The show’s main character is Doctor J. D. Dorian, played by Zach Braff. “Scrubs” originally ran from 2001 to 2010.

19 Muscleman with a mohawk : MR T

Mr. T’s real name is Laurence Tero Tureaud. Mr. T is famous for many things, including the wearing of excessive amounts of jewelry. He started this habit when he was working as a bouncer, wearing jewelry items that had been left behind by customers at a nightclub so that the items might be recognized and claimed. It was also as a bouncer that he adopted the name Mr. T. His catch phrase comes from the movie “Rocky III”. In the film, before he goes up against Rocky Balboa, Mr. T says, “No, I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool”. He parlayed that line into quite a bit of success. He had a reality TV show called “I Pity the Fool”, and produced a motivational video called “Be Somebody … or Be Somebody’s Fool!”.

Here is another example of a difference in terminology on either side of the Atlantic. What we call the Mohawk hairstyle in the US is known as a Mohican in Britain and Ireland. The Mohawk hairstyle is named after the Mohawk nation, who wore their hair in the same fashion. The Mohawk style has been around for a long time elsewhere in the world. There was a well-preserved male body found in a bog near Dublin in Ireland in 2003. The body is about 2,000 years old, and has the Mohawk haircut.

27 Portfolio options, for short : IRAS

Individual retirement account (IRA)

28 Venmo transfer, e.g. : E-CASH

Venmo is a smartphone payment app that is now owned by PayPal. The first version of the product was introduced in 2009 by two entrepreneurs who had met as freshman students at the University of Pennsylvania. They sold the company in 2012 for over $26 million, and then PayPal acquired it the following year for a whopping $800 million. I wonder do PayPal ever buy blogs …

29 Member of a raiding party : COMMANDO

A commando unit is a body of troops specially trained for hit-and-run raids into enemy territory. We imported the term into English from Afrikaans in the early 1800s. We owe the modern usage of “commando” to Winston Churchill, who used it starting in 1940 to describe shock troops whose job it was to disrupt of the planned German invasion of Britain. Churchill was probably familiar with the word from his time as a war correspondent and military officer during the Second Boer War.

33 Like universal recipients : TYPE AB

In general, a person with type O-negative blood is a universal donor, meaning that his or her blood can be used for transfusion into persons with any other blood type: A, B, AB or O, negative or positive (although there are other considerations). Also in general, a person with type AB-positive blood is a universal recipient, meaning that he or she can receive a transfusion of blood of any type: A, B, AB or O, negative or positive.

36 “Dies ___” (hymn) : IRAE

“Dies Irae” is Latin for “Day of Wrath”. It is the name of a famous melody in Gregorian Chant, one that is often used as part of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass.

39 Vagabond : HOBO

No one seems to know for sure how the term “hobo” originated, although there are lots of colorful theories. My favorite is that “hobo” comes from the first letters in the words “ho-meward bo-und”, but it doesn’t seem very plausible. A kind blog reader tells me that according to Click and Clack from PBS’s “Car Talk” (a great source!), “hobo” comes from “hoe boy”. Hoe boys were young men with hoes looking for work after the Civil War. Hobos differed from “tramps” and “bums” in that “bums” refused to work, “tramps” worked when they had to, while “hobos” traveled in search of work.

A vagabond is a person without a home who moves from place to place. The term derives from the Latin “vagabundus” meaning “wandering, strolling about”.

46 Dennis of “The Alamo” : QUAID

Actor Dennis Quaid is the younger brother of fellow actor Randy Quaid. Dennis dropped out of college when he saw how successful his brother was and moved to LA to pursue his own career in acting. He has had some noted performances, including a portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in 1989’s “Great Balls of Fire”. And, Dennis is one of Hollywood’s best golfers, playing off scratch.

48 Pond swimmer : TEAL

The beautiful color teal takes it name from the duck called a teal, which has dark greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.

55 Folk rocker DiFranco : ANI

Ani DiFranco is a folk-rock singer and songwriter. DiFranco has also been labeled a “feminist icon”, and in 2006 won the “Woman of Courage Award” from National Organization for Women.

56 Singer Black : CLINT

Clint Black is a country music singer. Black was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Texas.

57 1930s Depression-fighting org. : NRA

The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was one of the first agencies set up under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program. On the one hand the NRA help set minimum wages and maximum working hours for workers in industry, and on the other hand it helped set minimum prices for goods produced by companies. The NRA was very popular with the public, and businesses that didn’t opt to participate in the program found themselves boycotted. The NRA didn’t survive for long though, as after two years of operation it was deemed to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court and so it ceased operations in 1935.

63 ___ York (biggest city in los Estados Unidos) : NUEVA

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

66 H.S. exam : PSAT

Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)

67 Sound from a punctured tire : SSS!

Here’s another example of terms that change as we cross the Atlantic Ocean. When talking about tires (“tyres” in Britain and Ireland), a defect can cause a “flat” (“puncture” in Britain and Ireland).

68 Schlep : TOTE

Our word “schlep” (sometimes “schlepp”) means “carry, drag”. “Schlep” comes from Yiddish, with “shlepen” having the same meaning.

Down

1 Colorful aquarium swimmer : TETRA

The neon tetra is a freshwater fish that is native to parts of South America. The tetra is a very popular aquarium fish and millions are imported into the US every year. Almost all of the imported tetras are farm-raised in Asia and very few come from their native continent.

2 Babysitters’ banes : BRATS

Today, we tend to use the word “bane” to mean anathema, a source of persistent annoyance. A few centuries ago, a bane was a cause of harm or death, perhaps a deadly poison.

3 Francis Drake, for one : SIR

Sir Francis Drake was a Vice-Admiral in the Elizabethan navy, and second in command when the Royal Navy defeated the Spanish Armada. Drake was also a sanctioned pirate for the Queen and wreaked havoc on the Spanish merchant fleet. His most famous ship was the Golden Hind, in which he circumnavigated the world between 1577 and 1580.

5 Where the National Institutes of Health is headquartered : BETHESDA

The community of Bethesda in Maryland lies just northwest of Washington, D.C. The original settlement in the area was called “Darcy’s Store”. a reference to the original store that drew settlers to the location along the toll road between Georgetown and Rockville. The community’s name was changed to Bethesda in 1871 by a local postmaster, after a Presbyterian church called the Bethesda Meeting House. Bethesda is home to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Naval Medical Center. During WWII, Bethesda also hosted the Norwegian Royal Family while their country was occupied by German forces.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) organization is made up of 27 different institutes that coordinate their research and services. Examples of member institutes are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

6 It’s gathered during recon : INTEL

A “recon” (reconnaissance) might provide “intel” (intelligence).

8 Roast V.I.P.s : MCS

The term “emcee” comes from “MC”, an initialism used for a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies.

9 ___ Island (storied site of buried treasure) : OAK

Rumor has it that Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia is home to treasure buried by Captain Kidd, the pirate.

William Kidd was a Scottish privateer who went by the name “Captain Kidd”. Although Kidd was a privateer, someone authorized by the government to attack foreign shipping, he was eventually arrested and executed for piracy. There is a common opinion held today that the charges against Kidd were actually trumped up. Captain Kidd’s story was the basis of a 1945 film called “Captain Kidd” starring Charles Laughton in the title role. Laughton also appeared as Captain Kidd in 1952’s comic movie “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd”.

11 Skateboarding maneuver : OLLIE

An ollie is a skateboarding trick invented in 1976 by Alan “Ollie” Gelfand. Apparently it’s a way of lifting the board off the ground, while standing on it, without touching the board with one’s hands. Yeah, I could do that …

12 Salinger heroine : ESME

J. D. Salinger wrote a short story called “For Esmé – with Love and Squalor” that was originally published in “The New Yorker” in 1950. It is a story about a young English girl called Esme and an American soldier, and is set in WWII.

15 Swiss range : ALPS

There are eight Alpine countries:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Germany
  • Monaco
  • Italy

17 City on the Nile : ASWAN

The Egyptian city of Aswan lies in the south of the country, on the River Nile. Aswan is famous for its stone quarries, going back to ancient times. The most celebrated granite rock from the area is called syenite. Stone from Aswan was shipped northwards along the Nile and used in the construction of the pyramids. From ancient times right up to 1970, the annual flooding of the Nile was a significant event in Egypt. The flooding allowed the deposition of fertile silt far beyond the banks of the river, helping the region’s agriculture. However, the flooding was unpredictable. So the Aswan Dam was built in the sixties and from 1970 the flooding was brought under control.

26 It covers a lot of ground : ASPHALT

The asphalt surface on roads (or basketball courts) is more properly called asphaltic concrete because asphalt itself (also known as “bitumen”) is just a sticky black liquid that comes from crude petroleum. Asphalt is used as a binder with aggregate to form asphaltic concrete.

30 Magic 8 Ball, e.g. : ORB

The Magic 8 Ball is a toy, and supposedly a fortune-telling device, introduced by Mattel in 1946. There are 20 answers that the Magic 8 Ball can provide, including:

  • Without a doubt
  • Ask again later
  • My sources say no
  • Outlook not so good
  • Signs point to yes

32 Commercial lead-in to Clean : OXI-

OxiClean is a bleaching agent and cleaner that was famously marketed using infomercials that featured the late Billy Mays.

34 Honest ___ : ABE

Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the US. There are several stories told about how he earned the nickname “Honest Abe”. One story dates back to early in his career as a lawyer. Lincoln accidentally overcharged a client and then walked miles in order to right the wrong as soon as possible.

35 Spam generator : BOT

A bot is a computer program that is designed to imitate human behavior. It might crawl around the Web doing searches for example, or it might participate in discussions in chat rooms by giving pre-programmed responses. It might also act as a competitor in a computer game.

38 Diplomatic arrangements : ENTENTES

An entente cordiale (sometimes just “entente”) is a friendly understanding, usually between two nations. The term, which translates from French as “cordial agreement”, was first used to describe a set of agreements between the UK and France that were put in place 1904.

44 Like John Tyler, among all U.S. presidents : TENTH

John Tyler was the tenth President of the US, and the first to take the office on the death of the incumbent. Tyler’s predecessor was President William Henry Harrison, who was in office only 32 days before he died of natural causes. For a while there was a little confusion about the wording in the constitution that covered such an eventuality. There was an argument made that Tyler would continue as Vice-President but would assume the responsibilities of the office of President, in effect as “Acting President”. However, Tyler proceeded as though he was taking over as President and took the oath of office in his hotel room in Washington. Soon afterwards, Congress declared that Tyler was indeed President, although many continued to dispute the fact. Many of President Tyler’s opponents referred to him as “His Accidency”. His term in office ended in 1845. When the Civil War began in 1861, Tyler sided with the Confederacy and was even elected to the Confederate House of Representatives for the 3rd District of Virginia. President Tyler passed away only a few days after taking his seat in the House. His death was the only one in presidential history that was not recognized in the nation’s capital, as he sided with the Confederate States.

45 Univ. dorm supervisors : RAS

A resident assistant or resident adviser (RA) is a peer leader found in a residence hall, particularly on a college campus.

51 Metric that determines YouTube success : VIEWS

YouTube is a video-sharing website that was launched in 2005 by three ex-PayPal employees. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Yep, $1.65 billion, less than two years after it was founded …

53 Pirate’s booty, say : PRIZE

“Booty”, meaning “plunder, profit”, is derived from the Old French word “butin” that has the same meaning.

59 Fed. electricity provider since 1933 : TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has to be one of America’s great success stories when it comes to economic development. Created in 1933, the TVA spearheaded economic development in the Tennessee Valley at the height of the Great Depression. Central to the success was the federally-funded construction of flood-control and electricity-generation facilities.

60 “___ chance!” : FAT

“Fat chance” means “you’ve only got a slim chance”, somewhat paradoxically …

61 D.C. winter hrs. : EST

Eastern Standard Time (EST)

62 Prefix with Latin or Luddite : NEO-

In contemporary usage, a Luddite is someone who is slow to adopt new technology. This usage has even been extended to “Neo-Luddism”, meaning the active opposition to some technologies. It has been suggested that the term “Luddism” commemorates a youth called Ned Ludd, who smashed two mechanical knitting machines in 1779, in the belief that they represented automation that took away jobs. In the following decades, Luddism became an active movement, with Luddites going on rampages, smashing equipment that was deemed to create unemployment.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 1/16 of a cup: Abbr. : TBSP
5 Something to drool over? : BIB
8 Mr. of detective fiction : MOTO
12 Ghostly, say : EERIE
13 Suffix with acetyl : -ENE
14 “Scrubs” nurse married to Dr. Turk : CARLA
16 “Arr, matey! So ye seek buried treasure to fill yer ship’s hull? Well, the first clue is easy. Just ___” : START AT THE SKULL
19 Muscleman with a mohawk : MR T
20 Clip : SHEAR
21 Wintry chill : NIP
22 “At yer next clue already? Then off to the races! Now turn toward the dawn and go ___” : EAST TWELVE PACES
27 Portfolio options, for short : IRAS
28 Venmo transfer, e.g. : E-CASH
29 Member of a raiding party : COMMANDO
33 Like universal recipients : TYPE AB
36 “Dies ___” (hymn) : IRAE
37 Marauder’s tool : AXE
39 Vagabond : HOBO
40 Like an American in Paris : ABROAD
43 Companywide info-sharing system : INTRANET
46 Dennis of “The Alamo” : QUAID
48 Pond swimmer : TEAL
49 “Aye, the treasure be heavy, so flex yer biceps! With this third clue, turn right and go ___” : SOUTH SEVEN STEPS
55 Folk rocker DiFranco : ANI
56 Singer Black : CLINT
57 1930s Depression-fighting org. : NRA
58 “‘X’ marks the spot! Grab a spade! Dance a jig! Here’s the very last clue. Proceed ___” : WEST FIVE THEN DIG
63 ___ York (biggest city in los Estados Unidos) : NUEVA
64 Farm female : EWE
65 Grab, as booty : SEIZE
66 H.S. exam : PSAT
67 Sound from a punctured tire : SSS!
68 Schlep : TOTE

Down

1 Colorful aquarium swimmer : TETRA
2 Babysitters’ banes : BRATS
3 Francis Drake, for one : SIR
4 Pirate’s parrot, e.g. : PET
5 Where the National Institutes of Health is headquartered : BETHESDA
6 It’s gathered during recon : INTEL
7 “Act your age!” : BEHAVE!
8 Roast V.I.P.s : MCS
9 ___ Island (storied site of buried treasure) : OAK
10 Officer’s baton : TRUNCHEON
11 Skateboarding maneuver : OLLIE
12 Salinger heroine : ESME
15 Swiss range : ALPS
17 City on the Nile : ASWAN
18 Build : ERECT
23 Preschool punishment : TIME OUT
24 Refrain syllable : TRA
25 Settle up : PAY
26 It covers a lot of ground : ASPHALT
29 Surveillance org. : CIA
30 Magic 8 Ball, e.g. : ORB
31 French noblemen or noblewomen : MARQUISES
32 Commercial lead-in to Clean : OXI-
34 Honest ___ : ABE
35 Spam generator : BOT
38 Diplomatic arrangements : ENTENTES
41 “That’s the spot!” : AAH!
42 Things hurled at the Olympics : DISCI
44 Like John Tyler, among all U.S. presidents : TENTH
45 Univ. dorm supervisors : RAS
47 Looks closely (into) : DELVES
49 Cut into planks, say : SAWN
50 Best : ONE-UP
51 Metric that determines YouTube success : VIEWS
52 Stop seeing each other : END IT
53 Pirate’s booty, say : PRIZE
54 Wise : SAGE
59 Fed. electricity provider since 1933 : TVA
60 “___ chance!” : FAT
61 D.C. winter hrs. : EST
62 Prefix with Latin or Luddite : NEO-

15 thoughts on “0731-19 NY Times Crossword 31 Jul 19, Wednesday”

  1. 19:51. I’m not into the pirate craze that has swept pop culture the last few years. I just see them as thieves and murderers, but we’ve romanticized them as we have people like Bonnie and Clyde. But hey – not to be too much of a buzzkill – clever theme anyway.

    I’m was with Duncan on TEAL. But once I saw it was a duck, it came back to me in my crossword lizard brain.

    Best –

  2. Didn’t even see the skull until I finished as it was barely noticeable
    in the print version. Then I grabbed my shovel and proceeded.
    Lotsa fun! Oh, and another nega-vote for TEAL.

  3. 13:47, no errors. Nicely challenging puzzle. A little disappointed that the word PRIZE or ‘chest’ or ‘booty’ or something similar didn’t appear vertically below the X. Felt like digging for treasure and coming up empty.

    My foreign language pet peeve reared its ugly head again today. My issue is with 63A: if the setter is going to rely on solvers knowing foreign languages then why not go all in? Make the clue: ‘Ciudad más grande de los Estados Unidos’; instead a bilingual mishmash.

  4. Here on the north coast of California, teals are fairly common, especially the green-winged teal and the cinammon teal, the latter of which is only found out west. So, I don’t understand the “nega-votes.”

  5. TEAL was my last fill—-meaning that it was the one that I was least sure about. TEAL was the default answer since nothing else was even close. But I do think that it was a fair and square entry even if it was a little off-beat.

    I really liked this puzzle. It is probably the most creative one that I have ever encountered. I was struggling up until the point when I realized that the theme clues formed rhymes. From then on it became pretty easy.

    I really appreciate @Jeff’s comment above about who pirates really were. I don’t mind at all hearing the truth. Thanks for keeping it real, Jeff.

  6. Seems I should’ve liked this clever–maybe too clever–puzzle, but didn’t (and didn’t finish without a few errors, of course).

  7. Teal/Pond
    I just found the connection to be a bit tenuous. The clue could have been more specific to a teal and still be cryptic enough to be a challenge. Not a big deal; I withdraw my nega-vote.

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