0123-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Jan 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Barbara Lin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Aye

Themed answers sound like common phrases, but with an AYE-sound added to the end:

  • 59A Vote heard on the floor … and at the end of 20-, 31-, 35- and 50-Across? : AYE
  • 20A Proudly dresses like Bill Nye or Pee-wee Herman? : ROCKS THE BOWTIE (rocks the boat + “aye”)
  • 31A Mideast diplomat’s request, when itching to be challenged? : GIMME A SINAI (gimme a sign + “aye”)
  • 35A Premier internet connection? : THE GOOD WI-FI (“The Good Wife” + “aye”)
  • 50A Liberate Louis XIV’s palace? : FREE VERSAILLES (free verse + “aye”)

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 10m 26s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Concerning vision : OCULAR

“Oculus” (plural “oculi”) is the Latin word for “eye”, and gives us out term “ocular” meaning “eye-related”.

7 Info for a car service pickup, in brief : ETA

Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

13 Estado south of Arizona : SONORA

Sonora is the state in Mexico that lies just south of Arizona and New Mexico. Sonora is the second-largest state in the country, after Chihuahua.

14 Glamping site, maybe : YURT

A yurt is a wood-framed dwelling that is used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. Although a yurt is a substantial structure, it is also extremely portable.

“Glamping” is “glamorous camping”, camping with comforts and amenities.

16 Madagascar, par exemple : ILE

In French, an “île” (island) is “terre dans la mer” (land in the sea).

Madagascar is a large island nation lying off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The main island of Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world (after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo).

17 It’s needed for a push-up, informally : TRICEP

The triceps brachii muscle is found at the back of the upper arm. The muscle’s name translates to “three-headed arm muscle”, fitting as it is actually made up of three bundles of muscles.

18 So : ERGO

“Ergo” is a Latin word meaning “hence, therefore”, and one that we’ve absorbed directly into English.

19 JFK alternative : LGA

The three big airports serving New York City (NYC) are John F. Kennedy (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR).

20 Proudly dresses like Bill Nye or Pee-wee Herman? : ROCKS THE BOWTIE (rocks the boat + “aye”)

That would be “Bill Nye the Science Guy”. Bill’s show ran on PBS for four years, from 1993-97.

Pee-wee Herman is a comic character portrayed by Paul Reubens. Reubens introduced the character into his stage act, and from there to an HBO special that led to a 1985 movie “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”. There followed a children’s TV series called “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” that ran from 1986 to 1991, and a 1988 movie “Big Top Pee-wee”.

25 Silo filler, for short : 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 …

27 Bellyache : CARP

The word “carp” used to mean simply “talk” back in the 13th century, with its roots in the Old Norwegian “karpa” meaning “to brag”. A century later, the Latin word “carpere” meaning “to slander” influenced the use of “to carp” so that it came to mean “to find fault with”.

29 What you feel “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” : AMORE

“That’s Amore” is a pop standard written by Harry Warren and Jack Brooks in 1952. “That’s Amore” became the signature song for Dean Martin after he sang it (with some help from Jerry Lewis) in the 1953 comedy film “The Caddy”. “When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore …”

31 Mideast diplomat’s request, when itching to be challenged? : GIMME A SINAI (gimme a sign + “aye”)

The Sinai Peninsula is in the eastern part of Egypt, and is a triangular landform bounded by the Mediterranean to the north and the Red Sea to the south. It is the only part of Egypt that lies in Asia as opposed to Africa. The eastern land border of the peninsula is shared with Israel, and Israel occupied the Sinai during the 1956 Suez Crisis and the Six Day War of 1967.

33 Genesis craft : ARK

According to the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Noah was instructed to build his ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. That’s about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.

34 Inc., abroad : LTD

In Britain and Ireland the most common type of business (my perception anyway) is one that has private shareholders whose liability is limited to the value of their investment. Such a company is known as a private limited company, and has the letters “Ltd” after the name. If the shares are publicly traded, then the company is a public limited company, and has the letters “plc” after the name.

35 Premier internet connection? : THE GOOD WI-FI (“The Good Wife” + “aye”)

“Wi-Fi” is nothing more than a trademark, a trademark registered by an association of manufacturers of equipment that use wireless LAN (Local Area Network) technology. A device labeled with “Wi-Fi” has to meet certain defined technical standards, basically meaning that the devices can talk to each other. The name “Wi-Fi” suggests “Wireless Fidelity”, although apparently the term was never intended to mean anything at all.

“The Good Wife” is a legal drama showing on CBS starring Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick, a litigator who returns to practicing law after spending 13 years as a stay-at-home mom. I binge-watched the show some time back and found it to be well-written, with a great cast and great acting …

41 Many an I.R.S. worker : CPA

Certified public accountant (CPA)

44 Half of a 1960s folk-rock group : MAMAS

The folk group called the Magic Circle renamed itself to the Mamas and the Papas in the early sixties. Sadly, the Mamas and the Papas weren’t a happy bunch, always fighting over who was getting credit for songs and whose voice was getting mixed out of recordings, so they split up, twice. While they were together though, they wrote and recorded some great songs, songs which really do epitomize the sound of the sixties. “Monday, Monday” was written by John Phillips, one of “the Papas”, and it was to become the only number one hit for the group. Here’s a shocker … when it hit number one in 1966, it was the first time that a group made up of both sexes topped the American charts!

45 ___ avis : RARA

A “rara avis” is anything that is very rare. The Latin term translates as “rare bird”.

46 Bogus : SHAM

Our word “bogus”, meaning “not genuine” was coined (pun!) in the 1830s, when it applied to counterfeit money.

48 European Union member, to natives : EIRE

“Éire” is the Irish name for Ireland, coming from “Ériu”. Ériu was the matron goddess of Ireland in Irish mythology.

49 Ali who retired undefeated : LAILA

Laila Ali is the daughter of the great Muhammad Ali and is a very capable boxer in her own right. Laila’s professional record is an impressive 24 wins, including 21 knockouts. Now retired, she never lost a fight, and nor did she ever draw. One of those victories was against Jackie Frazier-Lyde, daughter of her father’s nemesis Joe Frazier. Laila is not a bad dancer either, coming in third place in the fourth season of “Dancing with the Stars”.

50 Liberate Louis XIV’s palace? : FREE VERSAILLES (free verse + “aye”)

Versailles is a city located just 10 miles from the center of Paris. It is famous as home to the magnificent Palace of Versailles. The palace started out as a hunting lodge built in the village of Versailles in 1624, built for Louis XIII. Louis XIII extended the lodge into a full-blown château, but it was Louis XIV who expanded it into one of the largest palaces on the planet. Louis XIV moved the royal court from Paris to Versailles starting in 1678.

53 Pan Am rival : TWA

Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a big carrier in the US, but was perhaps even more recognized for its extensive presence in Europe and the Middle East. For many years, especially after the collapse of Pan Am and TWA’s purchase by Howard Hughes, TWA was considered the unofficial flag carrier for the US. The company started in 1930, the product of a forced merger of Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express. The Transcontinental and Western Air that resulted (the original meaning of the initialism “TWA”) was what the Postmaster General wanted, a bigger airline to which the Postal Service could award airmail contracts.

Pan American World Airways (usually just “Pan Am”) started out as a mail and passenger service between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba in 1927. From very early in the company’s life it was the de facto representative air carrier of the United States. For many years, Pan Am’s fleet was built around the Boeing 314 Clipper, a long-range flying boat that was one of the largest aircraft around at the time. Pan Am adopted the Clipper as part of its image, even using “clipper” as the call sign for its flights.

54 Fries, e.g. : SIDE

French fries are called “chips” back in Ireland where I grew up. And what we call “chips” in the US are known as “crisps” in Britain and Ireland. In France, French fries are known as “pommes frites” (fried potatoes).

55 Foundation for a home on a bayou : STILTS

A bayou is a marshy inlet or outlet of a lake or river, usually with stagnant or slow-moving water. The exact origins of the term “bayou” is uncertain, but it is thought perhaps to come from the Choctaw (a Native American people from the southeast) word “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”.

58 Locale for Ernst and Young : SENATE

Joni Ernst was elected as a US Senator for Iowa in 2014. Ernst is a Republican who had previously served as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. She is the first female veteran in the US Senate, and the first woman to represent Iowa in the US Congress.

Todd Young was elected as a US senator for Indiana in 2017. Young, a Republican, succeeded Republican Dan Coats by defeating Democratic candidate and former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh.

60 Short albums, for short : EPS

An extended-play (EP) record, CD or download contains more music than a single, but less than an LP.

61 Some “Toy Story”-themed toys, informally : T-REXES

In the excellent Pixar film “Toy Story”, Rex is a tyrannosaurus, and a pretty clumsy one at that. He is voiced by actor Wallace Shawn, whose name is perhaps less familiar than his face. Shawn played the neighbor on “The Cosby Show” as well as many, many other supporting characters on TV and the big screen.

Down

1 Source of material for a feather duster : OSTRICH

The ostrich is a flightless bird that is native to Africa. It is extensively farmed, mainly for its feathers but also for its skin/leather and meat. Famously, the ostrich is the fastest moving of any flightless bird, capable of achieving speeds of over 40 mph. It is also the largest living species of bird, and lays the largest eggs.

3 Start-up worth a billion dollars, in a modern coinage : UNICORN

In the world of finance, a unicorn is a privately-held startup company that has a value of over $1 billion. The derivative terms “decacorn” and “hectacorn” refer to companies with valuation of over $10 billion and $100 billion respectively. The use of the term “unicorn” reflects how unlikely are such valuations.

8 Wind power generator : TURBINE

A turbine is a machine that uses the flow of a fluid (sometimes air) to create rotational work. Simple examples of turbines are windmills and waterwheels.

9 Odysseus’ faithful dog : ARGOS

According to Homer’s “Odyssey”, Argos is a dog, and the faithful companion of Odysseus. Odysseus leaves his home, and his dog, for twenty years to wage battle in Troy. When Odysseus returns, he must enter his house disguised as a beggar in order to rescue his wife Penelope from unwelcome suitors. Odysseus sees his dog, neglected, lying on a pile of manure and close to death. Much as he wants to comfort the dog, Odysseus maintains his disguise and ignores Argos. The dog just manages to wag his tail on seeing his master’s return, but has not the strength to greet him. As Odysseus enters his house, Argos dies.

10 Element of some chips : SILICON

Silicon is a semiconducting material. This means that it is sort of halfway between an insulator and a conductor. Silicon acts as an insulator until a voltage is applied, an if that voltage is sufficiently high then the silicon becomes a conductor. The electronics industry uses this phenomenon to make devices that can “switch” (turn from insulator to conductor) by application of a voltage.

11 Something with an “x” factor? : ALGEBRA

Algebra (alg.) is a branch of mathematics in which arithmetical operations are performed on variables rather than specific numbers (x,y etc). The term “algebra” comes from the Arabic “al jebr” meaning “reunion of broken parts”.

21 Perniciousness : HARM

Something pernicious is very harmful, causing death or serious injury. The term ultimately comes from the Latin “per-” meaning “completely” and “necis” meaning “violent death”.

26 Soong ___-ling, Madame Chiang Kai-shek : MEI

Soong Mei-ling was the Republic of China’s First Lady from 1948 to 1975, the wife of President Chiang Kai-shek. Mei-Ling was also the sister-in-law of Sun Yat-sen, who founded the Republic.

Chiang Kai-Shek was the leader of the Nationalist Movement in China right through to the end of WWII. The Nationalists lost out in a Civil War to the Communists backed by the Soviet Union after the war, and Chiang Kai-Shek and his government were forced to flee to Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek claimed rule over China from Taiwan until his death in 1975.

28 Anti-apartheid activist Steve : BIKO

Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist in the sixties and seventies in South Africa. Biko died in police custody and came to be viewed as a martyr to the anti-apartheid cause. The 1987 movie “Cry Freedom”, directed by Richard Attenborough. tells Biko’s story, with Denzel Washington playing the lead.

29 Wine center near Turin : ASTI

Asti is a city in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The region is perhaps most famous for its Asti Spumante sparkling white wine.

Turin (“Torino” in Italian) is a major city in the north of Italy that sits on the Po River. Back in 1861, when the Kingdom of Italy was formed, Turin was chosen as the first capital of the country.

32 Lead-in for Romeo : ALFA

The “Alfa” in “Alfa Romeo” is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

35 Premium network : TMC

The Movie Channel is owned by Showtime, which in turn is a subsidiary of CBS. The channel’s name is often abbreviated to “TMC”, although this is informal usage.

37 Land on the Persian Gulf : EMIRATE

The Persian Gulf is in effect an inland sea, although it technically is an offshoot of the Indian Ocean. The outlet from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean is one of the most famous maritime “choke points” in the world, and is known as the Strait of Hormuz. About 20% of the world’s supply of petroleum passes through the Strait of Hormuz.

39 Overpopulated, mazy districts : WARRENS

We tend to think today of a warren as a place where rabbits are bred, or where rabbits are found in abundance in the wild. Back in the 1300s, “warren” was a more general term for an enclosed piece of land used for breeding any domestic animals. We also use “warren” figuratively now, to describe a cluster of densely populated living spaces.

41 “Simmer down!” : CHILLAX!

“Chillax” is a slang term meaning “chill and relax”. Who’da thunk it …?

51 Powerful Scrabble tile : ESS

The game of Scrabble has been produced in many international versions, and each of these editions has its own tile distribution to suit the local language. For example, in English we have two tiles worth ten points: one “Q” and one “Z”. If you play the game in French then there are five tiles worth ten points: one “K”, one “W”, one “X”, one “Y” and one “Z”.

52 Second person?: Abbr. : ASST

Assistant (asst.)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Concerning vision : OCULAR
7 Info for a car service pickup, in brief : ETA
10 Drain : SAP
13 Estado south of Arizona : SONORA
14 Glamping site, maybe : YURT
16 Madagascar, par exemple : ILE
17 It’s needed for a push-up, informally : TRICEP
18 So : ERGO
19 JFK alternative : LGA
20 Proudly dresses like Bill Nye or Pee-wee Herman? : ROCKS THE BOWTIE (rocks the boat + “aye”)
23 Like some doors : IN-OUT
24 Pivot point : AXIS
25 Silo filler, for short : ICBM
27 Bellyache : CARP
28 Roughage source : BRAN
29 What you feel “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie” : AMORE
30 Layer : HEN
31 Mideast diplomat’s request, when itching to be challenged? : GIMME A SINAI (gimme a sign + “aye”)
33 Genesis craft : ARK
34 Inc., abroad : LTD
35 Premier internet connection? : THE GOOD WI-FI (“The Good Wife” + “aye”)
41 Many an I.R.S. worker : CPA
44 Half of a 1960s folk-rock group : MAMAS
45 ___ avis : RARA
46 Bogus : SHAM
47 Fast pace : CLIP
48 European Union member, to natives : EIRE
49 Ali who retired undefeated : LAILA
50 Liberate Louis XIV’s palace? : FREE VERSAILLES (free verse + “aye”)
53 Pan Am rival : TWA
54 Fries, e.g. : SIDE
55 Foundation for a home on a bayou : STILTS
56 Have : EAT
57 Boggle the mind : STUN
58 Locale for Ernst and Young : SENATE
59 Vote heard on the floor … and at the end of 20-, 31-, 35- and 50-Across? : AYE
60 Short albums, for short : EPS
61 Some “Toy Story”-themed toys, informally : T-REXES

Down

1 Source of material for a feather duster : OSTRICH
2 Astronomical rings : CORONAE
3 Start-up worth a billion dollars, in a modern coinage : UNICORN
4 What brakes shouldn’t do : LOCK UP
5 “Give it ___” : A REST
6 Mesmerized : RAPT
7 It may involve dilation : EYE EXAM
8 Wind power generator : TURBINE
9 Odysseus’ faithful dog : ARGOS
10 Element of some chips : SILICON
11 Something with an “x” factor? : ALGEBRA
12 What a shooter may shoot : PEA
15 Pull : TOW
21 Perniciousness : HARM
22 Retiring : TIMID
26 Soong ___-ling, Madame Chiang Kai-shek : MEI
28 Anti-apartheid activist Steve : BIKO
29 Wine center near Turin : ASTI
31 Large: Fr. : GROS
32 Lead-in for Romeo : ALFA
33 Wide open : AGAPE
35 Premium network : TMC
36 How you might meet someone : HALFWAY
37 Land on the Persian Gulf : EMIRATE
38 Desiccated : DRIED UP
39 Overpopulated, mazy districts : WARRENS
40 Angers : IRES
41 “Simmer down!” : CHILLAX!
42 Something for an artist to have on hand : PALETTE
43 Piles up : AMASSES
46 Like tears : SALINE
48 Online party request : E-VITE
49 Engine capacity unit : LITER
51 Powerful Scrabble tile : ESS
52 Second person?: Abbr. : ASST
53 Word with garden or party : TEA …

10 thoughts on “0123-20 NY Times Crossword 23 Jan 20, Thursday”

  1. 26:05. I should have looked for the revealer at the bottom earlier than I did. A little tame for a Thursday theme, however.

    Interesting piece of trivia about the MAMAS and the Papas. I now know what “glamping” means. I also didn’t understand SENATE being the answer for “Locale for Ernst and Young” until I read the write up. Clever clue.

    Best –

  2. 29:32… finally caught up after taking over 2 hours over four days to finish Sunday’s puzzle. Yeah, I won’t move onto the next day’s until I finish the previous day’s….or something like that….

  3. Almost seemed like a Friday, mainly because of some difficulty with the northwest. Wrapped that up and finished WNE. Why does TRICEP get the “informal” designation?

  4. 19:49, no errors. Took a while to untangle the NW corner, and to figure out MAMAS. Entered NEBULAE before CORONAE, which didn’t help. The theme made more sense once I figured out that the theme expressions included the consonant (e.g. boat not bow). The name ARGOS or Argus appears a lot in ancient mythology.

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