0131-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 20, Friday

Constructed by: John Guzzetta & Michael Hawkins
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: None

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 11m 44s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Hot sauce : SRIRACHA

Sriracha hot chile sauce is named for the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where the recipe likely originated. Here in North America, we are most familiar with the Sriracha sold in a red bottle with a green that is made by Huy Fong Foods in the city of Irwindale, California. The manufacturer was founded by Vietnamese refugee David Tran, who escaped from Vietnam in 1978 on a Taiwanese freighter called the Huey Fong, after which he named his new company.

14 Aid in hypnotism : PENDULUM

A weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely is called a pendulum. The term “pendulum” comes from the Latin “pendere” meaning “to hang”.

15 Treat whose name means, literally, “flash of lightning” : ECLAIR

The name for the pastry known as an “éclair” is clearly French in origin. The French word for lightning is “éclair”, but no one seems to be too sure how it came to be used for the rather delicious bakery item.

18 Big gear retailer : REI

REI is a sporting goods store, with the initialism standing for Recreational Equipment Inc. REI was founded in Seattle by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 as a cooperative that supplies quality climbing gear to outdoor enthusiasts. The first full-time employee hired by the Andersons was Jim Whittaker, who was the first American to climb Mount Everest.

19 Where all the pieces fall into place : TETRIS

Tetris is a very addictive video game that was developed in the Soviet Union in 1984. The name Tetris comes from a melding of the prefix “tetra-” (as all the game pieces have four segments) and “tennis” (a favorite sport played by the developer). Since 2005 there have been more than 100 million copies of the game installed on cell phones alone.

22 Know-it-alls : SWAMIS

A swami is a religious teacher in the Hindu tradition. The word “swami” can also mean “husband” in the Bengali and Malay languages.

24 “Am ___ brother’s keeper?” : I MY

In the story of Cain and Abel in the Book of Genesis, Cain murders his brother Abel. Subsequently, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain replies, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

30 City south of Luxor : 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.

33 Muslim ascetic : FAKIR

A fakir (also “faqir”) is an ascetic in the Muslim tradition. The term “fakir” is derived from “faqr”, an Arabic word for “poverty”.

34 Doomed from the start, informally : DOA

Dead on arrival (DOA)

37 “What’s the skinny?” : ANY NEWS?

The use of the word “skinny” meaning information, comes from WWII military slang for “the truth”, probably a derivative of the expression “the naked truth” (evocative of “skinny-dipping”).

39 Mr. Sharples, owner of a sitcom diner : MEL

The sitcom “Alice” is set in Mel’s Diner, which is supposedly frequented by locals and truckers on the outskirts of Phoenix. There is a real Mel’s Diner in Phoenix, and the restaurant’s sign is used in the opening credits. The real-world Mel’s was called “Chris’ Diner”, but the owner agreed to a temporary change in name for the purposes of the show. But, “Chris” never came back, and “Mel’s” is still serving customers today.

40 ___ board : EMERY

Emery is a very hard type of rock that is crushed for use as an abrasive. Emery paper is made by gluing small particles of emery to paper. Emery boards are just emery paper with a cardboard backing. And emery boards are primarily used for filing nails.

42 Some jungle greenery : FERNS

Ferns are unlike mosses in that they have xylem and phloem, making them vascular plants. They also have stems, leaves and roots, but they do not have seeds and flowers, and reproduce using spores. Spores differ from seeds in that they have very little stored food.

43 Fictional place that lent its name to a classic Cadillac : EL DORADO

The original El Dorado was a Muisca chief who was covered with gold dust in a tribal ritual and then dove into Lake Guatavita in present-day Colombia. Later, “El Dorado” was adopted as the name for a mythical “Lost City of Gold” that became a quest from many Spanish Conquistadors who explored the Americas.

The Cadillac Eldorado is a two-door luxury car that was produced by GM from 1953 to 2002.

46 Hosp. figure : LPN

Licensed practical nurse (LPN)

47 Ruler amts. : CMS

Centimeter (cm.)

48 Burns : DISSES

“Dis” (also “diss”) is a slang term meaning “insult” that originated in the eighties. It is a shortened form of “disrespect” or “dismiss”.

55 Alternative to a wrecking crew : TNT

“TNT” is an abbreviation for “trinitrotoluene”. Trinitrotoluene was first produced in 1863 by the German chemist Joseph Wilbrand, who developed it for use as a yellow dye. TNT is relatively difficult to detonate so it was on the market as a dye for some years before its more explosive properties were discovered.

56 D-day : GO-TIME

The most famous D-Day in history was June 6, 1944, the date of the Normandy landings in WWII. The term “D-Day” is used by the military to designate the day on which a combat operations are to be launched, especially when the actual date has yet to be determined. What D stands for seems to have been lost in the mists of time although the tradition is that D just stands for “Day”. In fact, the French have a similar term, “Jour J” (Day J), with a similar meaning. We also use H-Hour to denote the hour the attack is to commence.

58 Bit of derring-do : BOLD MOVE

As one might expect, “derring-do” (plural is “derrings-do”) comes from the phrase “daring to do”, which back in the 14th century was written as “dorrying don”.

60 Noted figure in Raphael’s “The School of Athens” : EUCLID

Euclid of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician who lived in the first millennium, often referred to as the “Father of Geometry”. He wrote a famous book called “Elements” on the subject of mathematics, and the title was so enduring that it was used as the main textbook for the subject right up to the late 19th century.

“The School of Athens” is a painting by Raphael, thought by many to be his masterpiece. The painting is a fresco, and can be seen in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.

62 One of the Kennedys : ETHEL

Ethel Kennedy is the widow of Robert F. Kennedy. Ethel was a roommate with Jean Kennedy, and through Jean met her brother Robert. Robert and Ethel had ten children together, with an eleventh child sadly arriving after Robert’s assassination in 1968.

Down

3 World power in cricket : INDIA

Cricket is the national game of England. The term “cricket” apparently comes from the Old French word “criquet” meaning “goalpost, stick”.

6 Comedic actor John : CLEESE

The magnificent actor and comedian John Cleese came to the public’s attention as a cast member in the BBC’s comedy sketch show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Cleese then co-wrote and starred in the outstanding comedy “Fawlty Towers”. He even had a role in two “James Bond” films.

7 Diana is the Roman goddess of it : HUNT

Diana was the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and birthing. The Greek equivalent of Diana was the goddess Artemis. According to Roman mythology, Diana was the twin sister of Apollo, and the daughter of Jupiter and Latona.

8 “Of thee I sing” addressee : AMERICA

The patriotic song “America” is also known by its first line, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The song was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831, and was the de facto national anthem of the country until “The Star-Spangled Banner” was declared the official anthem in 1931. The melody of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” is identical with the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”.

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!

9 Hosts : MCS

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

10 Lye, for one : ALKALI

The “opposite” of an acid is a base. Acids turn litmus paper red, and bases turn it blue. Acids and bases react with each other to form salts. An important subset of the chemicals called bases are alkalis, hydroxides of the alkali metals and of ammonium. The term “alkali” is sometimes used interchangeably with “base”, especially if that base is readily soluble in water.

11 Like the old Sears Roebuck catalog : MAIL ORDER

Richard Sears was a station agent on the railroad. In the late 1800s, he bought up a shipment of unwanted watches that was left at his depot and sold the watches to other agents up and down the line. He was so successful that he ordered more watches and then came up with the idea of using a catalog to promote more sales. The catalog idea caught on, and his success allowed Sears to open retail locations in 1925. By the mid 1900s, Sears was the biggest retailer in the whole country.

13 Besides “Gigi,” the only Best Picture winner with a four-letter name : ARGO

“Argo” is a 2012 movie that is based on the true story of the rescue of six diplomats hiding out during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The film was directed by and stars Ben Affleck and is produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney, the same pair who produced the excellent “Good Night, and Good Luck”. I highly recommend “Argo”, although I found the scenes of religious fervor to be very frightening …

“Gigi” is a very popular 1958 musical film starring Leslie Caron in the title role. The movie’s screenplay is based on a 1944 novella of the same name by French author Colette. Colette’s “Gigi” was also adapted into a 1951 stage play by Anita Loos, in which Audrey Hepburn played the title role in the original Broadway production.

23 Last name on a shoe box : MCAN

Thom McAn footwear was introduced in 1922 by the Melville Corporation (now CVS Caremark). The brand was named after a Scottish golfer called Thomas McCann. The Thom McAn line is epitomized by the comfortable leather casual and dress shoe, so sales have really been hurt in recent decades by the growing popularity of sneakers.

28 Potter’s house : GRYFFINDOR

In the “Harry Potter” series of books, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is divided into four houses:

  • Gryffindor
  • Hufflepuff
  • Ravenclaw
  • Slytherin

Each student is assigned to a house by the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat initially placed young Harry into Gryffindor House.

30 Ne plus ultra : ACME

“Ne plus ultra” is French for “no more beyond” and means just that in English, the high-point.

32 Temptation to steal : WILD PITCH

That would be baseball.

41 Famous last word of film : ROSEBUD

A central plot line in the 1941 movie “Citizen Kane” is a newsreel reporter’s quest to find the meaning of the dying word “Rosebud” spoken by the title character. Spoiler Alert … it is revealed at the end of the movie that “Rosebud” is the name of the sled used by Kane in his childhood, which was the only period of his life in which he was really happy.

49 Bit of attire for a fancy night out : STOLE

A stole is a narrow shawl. It can be made of quite light decorative material, but also can be heavier if made of fur.

50 Foreign representative : ENVOY

An envoy works at an embassy and is a representative of a government, and someone ranking below an ambassador. The name comes from the concept of the envoy being a “messenger” from his or her government. “Envoyer” is the French word for “to send”.

52 Jon who wrote and illustrated “Palindromania!” : AGEE

Jon Agee is a writer who seems to like words. He writes books for children such as “Palindromania!”, which is a celebration of palindromes. He also wrote “Smart Feller Fart Smeller”, which is filled with spoonerisms.

59 Subj. of a federal holiday since 1986 : MLK

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a US Federal holiday taking place on the third Monday of each year. It celebrates the birthday of Dr. King, and was signed into law by President Reagan in 1983, and first observed in 1986. However, some states resisted naming the holiday MLK Day, and gave it alternative names (like “Civil Rights Day”). It was officially celebrated as MLK Day in all 50 states from the year 2000 onwards.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Hot sauce : SRIRACHA
9 First word for many : MAMMA
14 Aid in hypnotism : PENDULUM
15 Treat whose name means, literally, “flash of lightning” : ECLAIR
16 Command from the director’s chair : AND … SCENE!
17 “But thanks for ___!” : ASKING
18 Big gear retailer : REI
19 Where all the pieces fall into place : TETRIS
21 Environmentalist ___ Leopold, author of the best-selling “A Sand County Almanac” : ALDO
22 Know-it-alls : SWAMIS
24 “Am ___ brother’s keeper?” : I MY
25 Soft hit : LOB
26 George ___, original cast member of “S.N.L.” : COE
27 Ones who “Don’t Cry,” according to a 2008 country hit : COWGIRLS
30 City south of Luxor : ASWAN
33 Muslim ascetic : FAKIR
34 Doomed from the start, informally : DOA
35 Inventors of the compass and movable type : CHINESE
37 “What’s the skinny?” : ANY NEWS?
39 Mr. Sharples, owner of a sitcom diner : MEL
40 ___ board : EMERY
42 Some jungle greenery : FERNS
43 Fictional place that lent its name to a classic Cadillac : EL DORADO
45 Back : AFT
46 Hosp. figure : LPN
47 Ruler amts. : CMS
48 Burns : DISSES
52 Statement often accompanied by an eye roll : AS IF!
53 Taken with : KEEN ON
55 Alternative to a wrecking crew : TNT
56 D-day : GO-TIME
58 Bit of derring-do : BOLD MOVE
60 Noted figure in Raphael’s “The School of Athens” : EUCLID
61 Spurn on social media : UNFOLLOW
62 One of the Kennedys : ETHEL
63 Building super’s ringful : DOOR KEYS

Down

1 Engages in argument : SPARS
2 Keep the books? : RENEW
3 World power in cricket : INDIA
4 Routes: Abbr. : RDS
5 One with lots to sell : AUCTIONEER
6 Comedic actor John : CLEESE
7 Diana is the Roman goddess of it : HUNT
8 “Of thee I sing” addressee : AMERICA
9 Hosts : MCS
10 Lye, for one : ALKALI
11 Like the old Sears Roebuck catalog : MAIL ORDER
12 [Jaw hits the floor] : [MIND BLOWN]
13 Besides “Gigi,” the only Best Picture winner with a four-letter name : ARGO
15 Romp : EASY WIN
20 Assurance after an accident : I’M OKAY!
23 Last name on a shoe box : MCAN
28 Potter’s house : GRYFFINDOR
29 Some freshness : SASS
30 Ne plus ultra : ACME
31 Forks over : SHELLS OUT
32 Temptation to steal : WILD PITCH
33 What a cat’s meow might mean : FEED ME
36 Suggested, with “of” : SMACKED
38 Brings in : NETS
41 Famous last word of film : ROSEBUD
44 In the records : ON FILE
45 1980 Peace Nobelist ___ Pérez Esquivel : ADOLFO
49 Bit of attire for a fancy night out : STOLE
50 Foreign representative : ENVOY
51 Is anguished over a decision : STEWS
52 Jon who wrote and illustrated “Palindromania!” : AGEE
54 Roller-skating in the house, say : NO-NO
57 “Cool” amount : MIL
59 Subj. of a federal holiday since 1986 : MLK

10 thoughts on “0131-20 NY Times Crossword 31 Jan 20, Friday”

  1. 31:23. Probably not that difficult of a puzzle. I spent the first half trying to do it at night while half asleep. I wisely shut it off and came back to it in the morning where it didn’t seem nearly as difficult.

    Even SRIRACHA took me a long time, and I use it constantly…

    Best –

  2. 11:42, no errors. Did it this morning while waiting for my dishwasher (which I have never used 😳) to be repaired for its new owners (who will probably replace it with a newer one 😜). Moving to a new house may be the death of me … but … c’est la vie! … 😜

  3. 58:15 and with a ton of luck no errors…I have never been a fan of puzzles with 2 setters…It’s hard enough to get into the mind of one let alone two.

  4. Thought I had this one until I checked in here. Completed the south east with things that actually made sense, but were ultimately wrong.
    Onward.

  5. 20:33, no errors. Spent a lot of time thinking about this puzzle, challenging clues. I’m a member of REI, and had the pleasure of crossing paths with Jim Whittaker while we were both having breakfast at restaurant near Mount Rainier. Did not know the connection between the two, interesting.

  6. Ha! I finished this one in record time and no errors. Which (sadly) means I will lose tonight’s poker tournament in record time.

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