1024-19 NY Times Crossword 24 Oct 19, Thursday

Constructed by: Matt Ginsberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Nothing to See Here

Themed answers refer to a fictitious clue at 72-across, the answer of which has to be “NOTHING”. “NOTHING” then serves as a prefix to each of the themed answers:

  • 18A When prefixed with 72-Across, what a friend wishes for you : NOTHING BUT THE BEST
  • 20A … A matter worth considering : NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT
  • 24A … Plaint upon going through one’s closet : NOTHING TO WEAR
  • 38A … A small amount : NOTHING MUCH
  • 42A … “Piece of cake!” : NOTHING TO IT!
  • 52A … Dud : NOTHING BURGER
  • 57A … Magician’s claim : NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE
  • 63A … Surgeon’s goal : NOTHING LEFT BEHIND
  • 4D … “Swish” : NOTHING BUT NET
  • 51D … “Keep at it!” : NOTHING IS EASY!

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

Bill’s time: 9m 19s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 The Taj City : AGRA

Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
  • Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
  • Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

9 ___ toast : MELBA

Melba toast is a dry, thinly sliced toast that is usually served with soup or salad. Melba toast was created by chef Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, for whom he also created the dessert called peach Melba.

14 Home to a majority of the world’s alpacas : PERU

Alpacas are like small llamas, but unlike llamas were never beasts of burden. Alpacas were bred specifically for the fleece. As such, there are no known wild alpacas these days, even in their native Peru.

15 Spinnaker or spanker : SAIL

A spinnaker is a sail used when a sailboat is sailing off the wind. It is a bulbous sail that balloons out when it fills with wind. Spinnakers might be said to resemble parachutes as they use similar light fabric, and both are often very colorful in design.

On a square-rigged sailing vessel, a spanker is a sail rigged behind the aft-most mast on the ship.

29 Whale’s closest living land relative : HIPPO

The name “hippopotamus” comes from the Greek for “river horse”. Hippos are the third largest land mammals, after elephants and rhinos. The closest living relatives to hippos don’t even live on land. They are the whales and porpoises of the oceans.

43 Gladiatorial accessory : SPEAR

The term “gladiator” means “swordsman”, and comes from “gladius”, the Latin word for “sword”.

47 ___ shot : FLU

Influenza (the “flu”) is an ailment that is caused by a virus. The virus is readily inactivated by the use of soap, so washing hands and surfaces is especially helpful in containing flu outbreaks.

66 One in it for the long run? : MILER

The 4-minute barrier for the mile run was first broken in 1954 by Roger Bannister, when he finished in just over 3m 59s. If you plan on running a 4-minute mile, you should probably be warned that this means you have to run the whole race at an average speed of over 15 mph (do the math!).

68 Result of atmospheric inversion : SMOG

“Smog” is a portmanteau formed by melding “smoke” and “fog”. The term was first used to describe the air around London in the early 1900s. Several cities around the world have a reputation of being particularly smoggy. For example, the most smog-plagued city in Latin America is Mexico City, which is located in a highland “bowl” that traps industrial and vehicle pollution.

69 Old kind of pool : STENO

Stenography is the process of writing in shorthand. The term comes from the Greek “steno” (narrow) and “graphe” (writing).

71 Where Bill and Hillary Clinton met : YALE

President Bill Clinton was born not as a Clinton, but as William Jefferson Blythe. Bill’s father was killed in a car accident just three months before he was born. His mother remarried a few years later, to Roger Clinton. Bill didn’t formally adopt the Clinton name until he was fourteen years old, although he used it as he was growing up.

Hillary Rodham was born in Chicago, Illinois to Hugh Rodham (a businessman in the textile industry) and Dorothy Howell (a homemaker). Hillary was raised in a conservative home, and she campaigned for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the 1964 US presidential election. The following year, she served as president of the Young Republicans at Wellesley College. Our former First Lady left the Republican Party expressing disappointment at what she witnessed at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami, citing “veiled” racist messages prevalent at that time.

Down

2 “Little ___ in Slumberland” (early comic) : NEMO

Little Nemo was the hero in a comic strip drawn by Winsor McCay in the early 1900s. The strip was called “Little Nemo in Slumberland” when it was published in the “New York Herald”, and then “In the Land of Wonderland Dreams” when it moved to the “New York American”.

3 “QB VII” author, 1970 : URIS

“QB VII” is a novel by American author Leon Uris. It is a story about the events leading up to a libel trial in the UK. The title refers to the courtroom in which the trial takes place, i.e. Queen’s Bench, Courtroom Seven.

5 Widely banned building material : ASBESTOS

Asbestos was very, very popular in so many applications for many years. The world’s largest asbestos mine was in Quebec, Canada in the town of … Asbestos.

6 Part of a medical kit : GAUZE

The surgical dressing called “gauze” is named for the thin fabric with a loose weave that bears the same name. The fabric’s name might possibly be derived from the Palestinian city of Gaza that has a history of gauze production.

8 Ski area in the Wasatch Mountains : ALTA

Alta ski resort actually lies within the Salt Lake City Metropolitan Area. The first ski lift in the resort was opened way back in 1939. Today, Alta is one of only three ski resorts in the country that prohibits snowboarding (along with Deer Valley, Utah and Mad River Glen, Vermont. The ski resort of Snowbird, located next to Alta, has been in operation since 1971.

The Wasatch Range is at the western edge of the Rocky Mountains and runs through Utah. “Wasatch” is a Ute word meaning “mountain pass”.

9 Wild West? : MAE

Mae West was always pushing the envelope when it came to the “sexy” side of show business, even in her early days in Vaudeville. One of the first plays in which West starred on Broadway was called “Sex”, a work that she penned herself. The show was a sell-out, but city officials had it raided and West found herself spending ten days in jail after being convicted of “corrupting the morals of youth”. She started in movies in 1932, already 38 years old. West used her experience writing plays to rewrite much of the material she was given, and so really she was totally responsible for her own success and on-screen appeal.

11 Feudal superior : LIEGE

A liege was a feudal lord, one to whom service or allegiance was owed under feudal law. “Liege” was also the term used for one who owed allegiance or service to a lord. Apparently the term is influenced by the Latin verb “ligare” meaning “to tie, bind”. So, I guess both lord and servant were “bound” to each other.

12 City whose name, appropriately, is an anagram of ARABS : BASRA

Basra is a Iraq’s main port, and is located in the southeast of the country, just 34 miles from the Persian Gulf. Access to the gulf is via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, a river that discharges into the gulf in the port city of Umm Qasr.

13 Purple perennial : ASTER

Apparently, most aster species and cultivars bloom relatively late in the year, usually in the fall. The name “aster” comes into English via Latin from the Greek word “astéri” meaning “star”, a reference to the arrangement of the petals of the flower.

19 Address starter : HTTP

“http” are the first letters in many Internet links. “http” stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. More secure and “safer” websites (like this one!) use links starting with “https”, which stands for “http secure”).

21 Carrier that operates only six days a week : EL AL

El Al Israel Airlines is the flag carrier of Israel. The term “el al” translates from Hebrew as “to the skies”. The company started operations in 1948, with a flight from Geneva to Tel Aviv. Famously, El Al only operates six days a week, not flying on the Sabbath.

26 Overly theatrical sorts : HAMS

The word “ham”, describing a performer who overacts, is a shortened form of “hamfatter” and dates back to the late 1800s. “Hamfatter” comes from a song in old minstrel shows called “The Ham-Fat Man”. It seems that a poorly performing actor was deemed to have the “acting” qualities of a minstrel made up in blackface.

33 Waterford offering : VASE

The company that today is Waterford Crystal arose out of a crystal business that had been operating in the town since 1783. A Czech immigrant established Waterford Crystal as a company in 1957, restarting a glass-making tradition that had been abandoned almost 100 years earlier, in 1851. Waterford’s business boomed along with its reputation for making a quality product. The company was purchased by Wedgewood in 1986, and Wedgewood ran into financial difficulties in 2009 and went into receivership. After a lot of turmoil, Waterford Crystal closed its doors in early 2010, but happily a new, smaller business opened up again a few months later.

35 😂 😂 😂 : ROFL

Rolling on Floor Laughing (ROFL)

39 Does a surfing trick : HANGS TEN

“To hang ten” is a verb used in surfing. A surfer hangs ten when he or she is able to walk forward and hang ten toes over the nose of the board because the back of the board is covered by the waves being ridden.

41 Singer who played the title role in “Calamity Jane” : DORIS DAY

Actress and singer Doris Day was born Doris Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio. Day made more than 650 recordings as a singer with Columbia Records, and also appeared in 39 movies. Outside the world of entertainment, she was an ardent supporter of animal rights. She lived in retirement in Carmel-by-the-Sea in California, along with her many pets and stray animals that she adopted over the years.

44 ___ deer : ROE

Roe deer are found mainly in Europe. They would be the deer shown on television and in movies when Robin Hood was out hunting in Sherwood Forest.

46 Holiday song : NOEL

“Noël” is the French word for the Christmas season, and ultimately comes from the Latin word for “birth” (natalis). “Noel” has come to be used as an alternative name for a Christmas carol.

53 Opening of a fitness motto : USE IT …

… or lose it.

55 Jeff of the Electric Light Orchestra : LYNNE

Jeff Lynne is a singer-songwriter who is best known as the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Lynne went on to form the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

58 Totally dope, in dated slang : PHAT

In hip-hop circles, the term “phat” means “excellent, first-rate”.

59 Ho Chi ___ City : MINH

Hanoi (“Hà Nội” in Vietnamese) was the capital of North Vietnam, and Saigon the capital of South Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Hanoi was made capital of the reunified state. Saigon, the larger metropolis, was renamed to Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi is located in the delta of the Red River, and is just over 50 miles from the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea.

60 Heiress of Hartfield, in an 1816 novel : EMMA

Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” is the tale of Emma Woodhouse and the wonderful George Knightley. At the end of the story, Emma marries Knightley and her young friend Harriet marries Robert Martin, who had been trying to get Harriet’s attention practically from page one of the novel. Emma interfered in that troubled courtship.

61 Popular Renaissance instrument : VIOL

The viola da gamba (also called simply “viol”) is a bass instrument in what is known as the viol family, with a tonal range that about matches that of the modern-day cello. It is the second largest of all the viols, so is played resting on the floor between the legs. In fact, “viola da gamba” is Italian translating into “viol for the leg”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Fail to invite, maybe : SNUB
5 The Taj City : AGRA
9 ___ toast : MELBA
14 Home to a majority of the world’s alpacas : PERU
15 Spinnaker or spanker : SAIL
16 Smith, sometimes : ALIAS
17 Drop : OMIT
18 When prefixed with 72-Across, what a friend wishes for you : NOTHING BUT THE BEST
20 … A matter worth considering : NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT
22 Mythical meanie : OGRE
23 “What ___?” : ELSE
24 … Plaint upon going through one’s closet : NOTHING TO WEAR
26 Suggest gently : HINT AT
29 Whale’s closest living land relative : HIPPO
31 Words repeated in “___ right, or ___ right?” : AM I
32 Delights in : LOVES
34 They’re taken in chess : TURNS
38 … A small amount : NOTHING MUCH
40 Introductory course? : SALAD
42 … “Piece of cake!” : NOTHING TO IT!
43 Gladiatorial accessory : SPEAR
45 Watch surreptitiously : SPY ON
47 ___ shot : FLU
48 A, B and C, but not X, Y and Z : NOTES
50 Bubbled, as a cauldron : ROILED
52 … Dud : NOTHING BURGER
55 Calumnies : LIES
56 Unaltered : AS IS
57 … Magician’s claim : NOTHING UP MY SLEEVE
63 … Surgeon’s goal : NOTHING LEFT BEHIND
65 In the thick of : AMID
66 One in it for the long run? : MILER
67 Palindromic woman : ANNA
68 Result of atmospheric inversion : SMOG
69 Old kind of pool : STENO
70 Bridge scorecard heading : THEY
71 Where Bill and Hillary Clinton met : YALE

Down

1 Difficult situation : SPOT
2 “Little ___ in Slumberland” (early comic) : NEMO
3 “QB VII” author, 1970 : URIS
4 … “Swish” : NOTHING BUT NET
5 Widely banned building material : ASBESTOS
6 Part of a medical kit : GAUZE
7 It’s a tradition : RITE
8 Ski area in the Wasatch Mountains : ALTA
9 Wild West? : MAE
10 Displace by force : ELBOW OUT
11 Feudal superior : LIEGE
12 City whose name, appropriately, is an anagram of ARABS : BASRA
13 Purple perennial : ASTER
19 Address starter : HTTP
21 Carrier that operates only six days a week : EL AL
25 Go (for) : OPT
26 Overly theatrical sorts : HAMS
27 Repeated cry after “Stop shaking me!” : I’M UP!
28 Deserving, to Santa : NICE
29 Chips in : HELPS
30 Opiner’s opener : I SAY …
33 Waterford offering : VASE
35 😂 😂 😂 : ROFL
36 Shade of green : NILE
37 Drywall support : STUD
39 Does a surfing trick : HANGS TEN
41 Singer who played the title role in “Calamity Jane” : DORIS DAY
44 ___ deer : ROE
46 Holiday song : NOEL
49 Level : TRUE
51 … “Keep at it!” : NOTHING IS EASY!
52 Comforts : BALMS
53 Opening of a fitness motto : USE IT …
54 M-1, for one : RIFLE
55 Jeff of the Electric Light Orchestra : LYNNE
58 Totally dope, in dated slang : PHAT
59 Ho Chi ___ City : MINH
60 Heiress of Hartfield, in an 1816 novel : EMMA
61 Popular Renaissance instrument : VIOL
62 Sharp part : EDGE
64 Stereotypical frat member : BRO

12 thoughts on “1024-19 NY Times Crossword 24 Oct 19, Thursday”

  1. “Roe” deer messed me up, never heard of them…that, and “I’m ok” vs. the actual “I’m up” consumed half my 21:29 time. But hey, I got the them early….

  2. 19:10. Got the theme early although when I got BUTTHE for 18A, I thought it was going to be a “Beavis and BUTTHEad” theme which probably says more about me than the puzzle itself…

    I’m pretty sure PHAT is an acronym for “Pretty, Hot And Tasty”. I’m quite embarrassed that I know that.

    URIS’ “QBVII” is a great read. I think they made it into a tv mini series at one point as well. I highly recommend it.

    Best –

  3. The states of Missouri and Arkansas request ⛽ from Bill Butler, who like Dave Kennison, has a limitless supply … i.e they both cheat!

  4. No errors. Got the theme early. What else could a 72-Across be but NOTHING? I liked this one mostly because it was quite doable once the theme was understood. Always nice to have a small victory at the end of my NYT puzzle week. (I don’t attempt Fri, Sat, or Sun).

  5. @Jack

    A balm is usually an ointment that soothes or comforts, roiled is similar to boiled in that it describes a liquid that is turbulently moving, like a potion in a witch’s cauldron.

  6. 12:38, no errors. Felt like this should have been yesterdays puzzle, and vice versa. Happy Thanksgiving to all you syndicatees! Or, after walking through stores and around my neighborhood, seeing Halloween decorations still up, while others have Christmas trees and lights up already; it would be more appropriate to wish all a ‘Happy Hallowthanksmas’.

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