0108-20 NY Times Crossword 8 Jan 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Amanda Yesnowitz and Joon Pahk
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: AB-Positive

There’s a very touching, and elaborate, story behind this puzzle that can be read here. Here’s a basic explanation of the theme, but there is much more than meets the eye. Themed answers start with the initials AB:

  • 60A What’s an uncommon blood type … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : AB-POSITIVE
  • 17A Early warnings of danger : ALARM BELLS
  • 26A Radiant display also called the Northern Lights : AURORA BOREALIS
  • 47A Now-discontinued Chili’s appetizer with a rhyming name : AWESOME BLOSSOM

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 9m 57s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Eponymous character of Disneyland’s “Wild Ride” : MR TOAD

Mr. Toad is one of the main characters in the children’s novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. A. A. Milne (of “Winnie-the-Pooh” fame) wrote several plays based on “The Wind in the Willows”, the first of which is “Toad of Toad Hall”. And, Mr Toad’s Wild Ride was (it’s closed now!) one of the original rides at Disneyland when the park opened in 1955.

10 Tangy Greek cheese : FETA

Feta is a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk, or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. The cheese is salted and cured in a brine solution for several months before it is eaten.

14 Usual victim of Bart’s prank calls : MOE

On the animated TV comedy “The Simpsons”, Bart likes to prank-call Moe’s Tavern. Bart asks Moe to “page” someone in the bar using a fictitious name, a name which sounds like a rude phrase when called out loud. This running joke on “The Simpsons” is a homage to a series of legendary calls made in real life to the Tube Bar in Jersey City by John Elmo and Jim Davidson that were taped and circulated widely in the mid-seventies. Some of the milder names used in the original prank calls were:

  • Al Cholic (alcoholic)
  • Cole Kutz (cold cuts)
  • Sal Lammy (salami)
  • Anita Bath (I need a bath)

15 Schwartz who spent Tuesdays with Mitch Albom : MORRIE

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is a novel by Mitch Albom, first published in 1997. The story is a work of nonfiction, telling the tale of sociologist Morrie Schwartz and his students, one of whom is the author Mitch Albom. Albom has frequent visits with his old professor when he discovers that Morrie is dying from ALS.

19 “Miami ___” : VICE

“Miami Vice” is a detective television show that originally aired in 1984-1989. Stars of the show are Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. There is a 2006 film adaptation of “Miami Vice” starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.

20 Economic and legislative capital of Sri Lanka : COLOMBO

Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka. It is also the commercial capital of the island nation, whereas the administrative capital is Kotte (or more formally “Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte). Kotte is in fact a suburb of Colombo.

23 Bronze ___ : AGE

Ancient societies can be classified by the “three-age system”, which depends on the prevalence of materials used to make tools. The three ages are:

  • The Stone Age
  • The Bronze Age
  • The Iron Age

The actual dates defined by each age depend on the society, as the timing of the transition from the use of one material to another varied around the globe.

24 English pop diva : ADELE

“Adele” is the stage name of English singer Adele Adkins. Adele’s debut album is “19”, named after the age she was during the album’s production. Her second album was even more successful than the first. Called “21”, the second album was released three years after the first, when Adele was three years older. Her third studio album “25”, released in 2015, broke the first-week sales records in both the UK and the US.

26 Radiant display also called the Northern Lights : AURORA BOREALIS

The spectacular aurora phenomenon is seen lighting up the night sky at both poles of the earth (the Aurora Borealis in the north, and the Aurora Australis in the south). The eerie effect is caused by charged particles colliding with atoms at high latitudes.

32 Glee club member : BASSO

A glee club is a choir group, usually of males, that sings short songs known as “glees”. A glee is a song scored for three or more voices that is performed unaccompanied.

33 “Interstellar” actor Damon : MATT

“Interstellar” is a sci-fi film released in 2014 with a “stellar” cast including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon and Michael Caine. I found “Interstellar” to be a really engaging movie, one that grabbed my attention the whole way through. That said, the ending was a little bit disappointing. I’m not one for walking out of theaters with unanswered questions …

34 Longer forearm bone : ULNA

The radius and ulna are bones in the forearm. If you hold the palm of your hand up in front of you, the radius is the bone on the “thumb-side” of the arm, and the ulna is the bone on the “pinky-side”.

35 Biological messenger molecule : RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is an essential catalyst in the manufacture of proteins in the body. The genetic code in DNA determines the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein. That sequence is read in DNA by messenger RNA, and amino acids are delivered for protein manufacture in the correct sequence by transfer RNA. The amino acids are then formed into proteins by ribosomal RNA.

40 “Thy sharp teeth …” referent : ASP

In William Shakespeare’s play “Antony and Cleopatra”, the heroine of the piece addresses the asp as she uses the snake to commit suicide:

Come, thou mortal wretch,
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool,
Be angry, and dispatch.

Later she says:

Peace, peace!
Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
That sucks the nurse asleep?

43 Egypt : pound :: Iran : ___ : RIAL

The rial is the currency of Iran (as well as Yemen, Oman, Cambodia and Tunisia). Generally, there are 1,000 baisa in a rial.

45 Sacred lamb, from the Latin : AGNUS

“Agnus Dei” is Latin for “Lamb of God”, The expression is used in Christian traditions to describe Jesus Christ, hence symbolizing his role as a sacrificial offering (sacrificial lamb) to atone for the sins of man.

47 Now-discontinued Chili’s appetizer with a rhyming name : AWESOME BLOSSOM

The first Chili’s restaurant opened in 1975 in Dallas, Texas. There are now more than 1,400 Chili’s restaurants operating all over North America.

50 Oscar-winning composer Jule : STYNE

Jule Styne was an English songwriter who made a name for himself in America with a series of popular musicals. Styne wrote a number of famous songs including “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl”, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy”.

51 Workplace of Jack Bauer on “24,” for short : CTU

Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU)

“24” is an action-packed TV show with Kiefer Sutherland starring as counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer in the show’s original incarnation. The title refers to the structure of the series. Each season has 24 episodes, with each episode representing an hour of real-time action in the story. The collection of 24 episodes builds up to a plot that lasts a full 24 hours.

59 Zany anecdote : YARN

Something described as zany is clownish and bizarre. “Zany” can also be a noun, a term used for a clown or buffoon. The original noun was “Zanni”, a Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, short for Giovanni (John). Zanni was a character who appeared in comedy plays of the day, and was someone who aped the principal actors.

60 What’s an uncommon blood type … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : AB-POSITIVE

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.

64 “Old Man and the Sea” fish : MARLIN

The fish called a marlin takes its name from the sailor’s took called a marlinspike. The long nose of the marlin might indeed be described as a “spike”. A marlinspike is used by sailors when working with rope, untying knots or perhaps splicing. The name of the tool comes from the practice of “marling”, which is the winding of twine around the ends of a larger piece of rope to prevent it from unravelling.

If you’ve read Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea” (maybe first at school, like me!) you’ll likely remember it as a quick read as it is a novella, although it might be better described as a “long short story”. It was first published in 1952, the last major work that Hemingway had published in his lifetime. That first publication was as a story in “Life Magazine”, and it was such a hit that the magazine sold 5 million copies in the first two days. “The Old Man and the Sea” won a Pulitzer in 1952 and two years later the title was cited when Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

65 Good friend of Stimpy : REN

“The Ren & Stimpy Show” is an animated television show created by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi, and which ran on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1996. The title characters are Marland “Ren” Höek, a scrawny Chihuahua, and Stimpson J. Cat, a rotund Manx cat. Not my cup of tea …

68 Tribe of Israel : DAN

In the Torah, the Israelites are traced back to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Jacob’s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jacob’s sons were:

  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
  • Judah
  • Dan
  • Naphtali
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Issachar
  • Zebulun
  • Joseph
  • Benjamin

Down

1 Egg-shaped computer, once : IMAC

The iMac is a desktop computer platform that Apple introduced in 1998. One of the main features of the iMac is an “all-in-one” design, with the computer console and monitor integrated. The iMac also came in a range of colors, that Apple marketed as “flavors”, such as strawberry, blueberry and lime.

2 Darth Vader’s son-in-law Han ___ : SOLO

The full name of the character played by Carrie Fisher in the “Star Wars” series of films is Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, and later Leia Organa Solo. Leia is the twin sister of Luke Skywalker, and the daughter of Anakin Skywalker (aka “Darth Vader”) and Padmé Amidala. Leia is raised by her adoptive parents Bail and Breha Organa. She eventually marries Han Solo.

4 Echoic soup slogan : MM MM GOOD

The Campbell’s Soup company is named for one of the enterprise’s two founders, Joseph A. Campbell. He and Abraham Anderson started the business in 1869. The iconic design of the Campbell’s can was introduced in 1898 and has hardly changed since then. The gold seal in the design comes from the 1900 Paris Exhibition.

6 iPhone alternative, once : TREO

The Treo is a smartphone that was originally developed by a company called Handspring. Handspring was bought by Palm Inc. Subsequently, the Treo was phased out and replaced by the Palm Pre.

7 Southeast Division N.B.A. team, on scoreboards : ORL

The Orlando Magic were formed in 1989 as an NBA expansion team. A local paper was asked to run a competition to suggest names for the new team and the community came up with its four top picks of “Heat”, “Tropics”, “Juice” and “Magic”. A committee then opted for “Orlando Magic”. A good choice I think …

9 Orange sherbet and others : DESSERTS

Sherbet, the frozen dessert, is a very similar to sorbet, the difference being that sherbet contains a small amount of milkfat.

11 Eastern prince : EMIR

An emir is a prince or chieftain, one most notably from the Middle East. In English, “emir” can also be written variously as “emeer, amir, ameer” (watch out for those spellings in crosswords!).

12 Order at Chipotle : TACO

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a chain of casual dining restaurants that was founded and is now headquartered in Denver, Colorado. For several years, the major investor in Chipotle was McDonald’s. The chain is named for the smoke-dried jalapeño called a “chipotle”.

24 Org. for lawyers : ABA

American Bar Association (ABA)

26 Soft drink brand : A AND W

A&W is a brand of root beer that has been around since 1920, when Roy Allen partnered with Frank Wright to create the A&W moniker from their family names.

28 One might sleep on it : AMBIEN

Ambien is a brand name for the prescription drug zolpidem. I have a friend who used to swear by Ambien for helping cope with jet lag. I once had to deal with jet lag almost monthly and swear by the diet supplement melatonin, which you can buy over the counter here in the US. But, I am no doctor so don’t listen to anything I say …

29 Ranchero’s plain : LLANO

“Llano” is the Spanish word for “plain”.

31 Suckers or syrups : 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 are derived from “sapwood”, which is the softwood found in tree trunks between the bark and the heartwood at the center.

32 Hollywood-area attraction La ___ Tar Pits : BREA

The La Brea Tar Pits are located right in the heart of the city of Los Angeles. At the site there is a constant flow of tar that seeps up to the surface from underground, a phenomenon that has been around for tens of thousands of years. What is significant is that much of the seeping tar is covered by water. Over many, many centuries animals came to the water to drink and became trapped in the tar as they entered the water to quench their thirst. The tar then preserved the bones of the dead animals. Today a museum is located right by the Tar Pits, recovering bones and displaying specimens of the animals found there. It’s well worth a visit if you are in town …

39 Rookie move? : CASTLING

The corner piece in the game of chess is called a “rook”, a word coming from the Persian “rokh” meaning a “chariot”. The rook has also been called, perhaps incorrectly, the castle, tower, marquess and rector.

44 Sixteenth president’s nickname : 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.

46 Outerwear? : G-SUIT

A G-suit is needed when astronauts and aviators are subject to high accelerations. Such acceleration can cause blood to pool in the lower part of the body, reducing the supply to the brain and possibly leading to a blackout. A G-suit is basically a special pair of tight-fitting pants that are fitted with inflatable bladders. The bladders inflate during high accelerations, tightening around the legs and abdomen, reducing the amount of blood pooling. So, a “G-suit” is more correctly referred to as an “anti-G suit”.

48 New York Giants giant Mel : OTT

At 5′ 9″, baseball legend Mel Ott weighed just 170 lb (I don’t think he took steroids!) and yet he was the first National League player to hit over 500 home runs. Sadly, Ott died in a car accident in New Orleans in 1958 when he was only 49 years old. And, according to Wikipedia, “Ott’s name frequently appears in crossword puzzles, on account of its letter combination and brevity.” True that …

52 “For Your ___ Only” : EYES

In addition to the James Bond series of novels, Ian Fleming wrote a collection of “Bond” short stories called “For Your Eyes Only”. The name of the collection was used for one of the Bond films. “Quantum of Solace” was one of those stories, and this title was also used for a Bond film, even though the plot bears no resemblance to the storyline.

55 Young otter’s home : HOLT

Male and female otters are known as dogs and bitches, with the offspring called pups. Males and females are are sometimes referred to as boars and sows. A collection of otters is a bevy, family, lodge or perhaps a romp. When in water, a collection of otters can be called a raft.

56 Owl or osprey : BIRD

Much of an owl’s diet consists of small mammals. As a result, humans have used owls for centuries to control rodent populations, usually by placing a nest box for owls on a property. Despite the fact that owls and humans live together in relative harmony, owls have been known to attack humans from time to time. Celebrated English bird photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye when attacked by a tawny owl that he was trying to photograph. Hosking wrote a 1970 autobiography with the wry title “An Eye for a Bird”.

The osprey is also known as the sea hawk or fish eagle. Osprey nests are large heaps of sticks usually built in forks of trees and rocky outcrops. I’ve seen quite a few osprey nests built on the tops of light poles and utility poles.

57 Unit of the eye containing the iris : UVEA

The uvea is the middle of the three layers that make up the eyeball. The outer layer is called the fibrous tunic, and the inner layer is the retina.

58 Dollywood’s locale: Abbr. : TENN

Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that is owned by country singer Dolly Parton. The park opened in 1961 as Rebel Railroad. The name was changed to Goldrush Junction in 1970, Goldrush in 1976, Silver Dollar City Tennessee in 1977 and finally to Dollywood in 1986 when Parton became a co-owner.

61 A word from Scrooge : BAH!

The classic 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens has left us with a few famous phrases and words. Firstly, it led to popular use of the phrase “Merry Christmas”, and secondly it gave us the word “scrooge” to describe a miserly person. And thirdly, everyone knows that Ebenezer Scrooge uttered the words “Bah! Humbug!”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Like: Suffix : -ISH
4 Eponymous character of Disneyland’s “Wild Ride” : MR TOAD
10 Tangy Greek cheese : FETA
14 Usual victim of Bart’s prank calls : MOE
15 Schwartz who spent Tuesdays with Mitch Albom : MORRIE
16 Robert Bolt’s “___ for All Seasons” : A MAN
17 Early warnings of danger : ALARM BELLS
19 “Miami ___” : VICE
20 Economic and legislative capital of Sri Lanka : COLOMBO
21 Melancholy : SORROW
23 Bronze ___ : AGE
24 English pop diva : ADELE
26 Radiant display also called the Northern Lights : AURORA BOREALIS
32 Glee club member : BASSO
33 “Interstellar” actor Damon : MATT
34 Longer forearm bone : ULNA
35 Biological messenger molecule : RNA
36 Extra-small amount, as of lotion : DAB
38 “Return from full-screen mode” key : ESC
40 “Thy sharp teeth …” referent : ASP
41 Yardstick part : EDGE
43 Egypt : pound :: Iran : ___ : RIAL
45 Sacred lamb, from the Latin : AGNUS
47 Now-discontinued Chili’s appetizer with a rhyming name : AWESOME BLOSSOM
50 Oscar-winning composer Jule : STYNE
51 Workplace of Jack Bauer on “24,” for short : CTU
52 “I could go on and on …” : ETC ETC …
55 Tuna alternative : HALIBUT
59 Zany anecdote : YARN
60 What’s an uncommon blood type … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme : AB-POSITIVE
63 Higher-up : EXEC
64 “Old Man and the Sea” fish : MARLIN
65 Good friend of Stimpy : REN
66 “I’m on your ___!” : SIDE
67 Flashy one, for short? : PHOTOG
68 Tribe of Israel : DAN

Down

1 Egg-shaped computer, once : IMAC
2 Darth Vader’s son-in-law Han ___ : SOLO
3 Mend : HEAL
4 Echoic soup slogan : MM MM GOOD
5 Heist figure : ROBBER
6 iPhone alternative, once : TREO
7 Southeast Division N.B.A. team, on scoreboards : ORL
8 Lack one’s usual vitality, maybe : AIL
9 Orange sherbet and others : DESSERTS
10 “Very Bad Things” and “Swingers” actor Jon : FAVREAU
11 Eastern prince : EMIR
12 Order at Chipotle : TACO
13 Freshly : ANEW
18 Crowd noises : ROARS
22 “Rah!” at a bullfight : OLE!
24 Org. for lawyers : ABA
25 “Spill the tea!” : DO TELL!
26 Soft drink brand : A AND W
27 Water bill listing : USAGE
28 One might sleep on it : AMBIEN
29 Ranchero’s plain : LLANO
30 Discussion-recapping phrase : IN SUM
31 Suckers or syrups : SAPS
32 Hollywood-area attraction La ___ Tar Pits : BREA
37 End point of a military march : ARMY CAMP
39 Rookie move? : CASTLING
42 Encapsulation : ESSENCE
44 Sixteenth president’s nickname : ABE
46 Outerwear? : G-SUIT
48 New York Giants giant Mel : OTT
49 Elected congresswoman of 2018, Alexandria ___-Cortez : OCASIO
52 “For Your ___ Only” : EYES
53 One alternative to Uber : TAXI
54 Rep : CRED
55 Young otter’s home : HOLT
56 Owl or osprey : BIRD
57 Unit of the eye containing the iris : UVEA
58 Dollywood’s locale: Abbr. : TENN
61 A word from Scrooge : BAH!
62 Debate stance : PRO

3 thoughts on “0108-20 NY Times Crossword 8 Jan 20, Wednesday”

  1. 19:48 with two successful wild guesses with “treo” and “g suit”. A lovely tribute hidden in the clues that I never would have caught in a million years

  2. 13:55. Ditto above regarding the theme(s).

    39D Wins the clue of the day award. It was one of the last to fill. I just didn’t see the chess aspect of it until the aha moment. Embarrassing because I’m a huge fan of the game. CASTLING is a move you do with a rook (and a king) on a chess board. Groaner indeed.

    An awful lot to like about this puzzle.

    Best –

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