0204-20 NY Times Crossword 4 Feb 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Queena Mewers & Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Music

Themed answers each end with a MUSICAL instrument:

  • 65A What the ends of 17-, 23-, 36-, 47- and 57-Across make : MUSIC
  • 17A Crams (in) : SHOEHORNS
  • 23A Some romantic entanglements : LOVE TRIANGLES
  • 36A Things clinked on New Year’s Eve : CHAMPAGNE FLUTES
  • 47A Interviewing aids : TAPE RECORDERS
  • 57A Subjects of health class diagrams : SEX ORGANS

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 5m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Smidgens : IOTAS

Iota is the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet, and one that gave rise to our letters I and J. We use the word “iota” to portray something very small, as it is the smallest of all Greek letters.

9 Sniper’s aid : SCOPE

To snipe is to attack with snide criticism, especially from a safe distance. This usage of the term is an extension of the older meaning, to take a shot from a hidden position (as in “sniper”). Such a shot was originally taken when hunting the game birds called “snipes”.

14 Olympics symbol : TORCH

A flame is used as the symbol for the Olympic Games in commemoration of the theft of fire for humanity by Prometheus from Zeus in Greek mythology. The symbolic flame was introduced to the Modern Olympics in the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam. The tradition of the Olympic torch relay started out as political theater devised and funded by Nazi Germany for the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.

16 Big name in pest control : ORKIN

Orkin is a pest-control company. If you want to learn more about insects, you might want to visit the O. Orkin Zoo, a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The exhibit has over 300 live insects, all displayed in their natural habitats.

19 Center of U.S. lobstering : MAINE

A male lobster is called a cock, and a female a hen. A lobster weighing less than a pound is called a chicken.

20 Luxury purse monogram : YSL

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL)

21 Long March leader in China : MAO

The Long March was a retreat by the Communist Red Army through much of China, falling back from the advances of the army of the Chinese Nationalist Party. Taking place in 1934-1935, the Long March is famous for the ascent to power of Mao Zedong as he led the retreating forces. As a result of the Long March, the Communist Party was able to recover and rebuild in the northern part of the county. The orderly retreat and respect shown for the Chinese peasantry led to the rise of popularity of the Communist Party with the populace.

28 ___ of one’s existence : BANE

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.

29 Letters after Chuck Schumer’s name : D-NY

Democrat, New York (D-NY)

Chuck Schumer is the senior US Senator from New York, and a Democrat. Schumer was elected Senate minority leader in 2016 following the retirement of Harry Reid. Schumer is a second cousin, once removed of comedian and actress Amy Schumer.

30 Texter’s “One more thing …” : BTW …

By the way (BTW)

31 Philosopher with a “razor” : OCCAM

Ockham’s Razor (also “Occam’s Razor”) is a principle in philosophy and science that basically states that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. This explanation is a corollary to the more exact statement of the principle, that one shouldn’t needlessly use assumptions in explaining something. The principle is referred to as “lex parsimoniae” in Latin, or “the law of parsimony”. Parsimony is being thrifty with money or resources.

34 ET from the planet Melmac : ALF

“ALF” is a sitcom that aired in the late eighties. The title character is a hand-puppet, and supposedly an alien named Gordon Shumway from the planet Melmac. The alien crash-landed into the house of amateur radio enthusiast Willie Tanner. Tanner renamed the intruder “ALF”, standing for “alien life form”.

35 Bank with M.L.B. naming rights, for short : CITI

Citi Field is the relatively new baseball stadium used by the New York Mets that sits right next door to the site of Shea stadium, where the Mets had played for decades. And the new facility’s name comes from corporate sponsor Citigroup.

36 Things clinked on New Year’s Eve : CHAMPAGNE FLUTES

The narrow bowl of a champagne flute is preferred over the wide bowl of a champagne coupe as the smaller surface area of the wine helps retain its carbonation.

40 Fey of “30 Rock” : TINA

Comic actress Tina Fey has a scar on her face a few inches long on her left cheek, which I was shocked to learn was caused by a childhood “slashing” incident. When she was just five years old and playing in the alley behind her house, someone just came up to her and slashed her with a knife. How despicable!

41 Drop from the roster : CUT

Our word “roster”, meaning “list, register”, actually comes from the same root as our word “roast”, would you believe. “Roster” came into English from the Dutch “rooster”, meaning “table, list”. An alternative use of the Dutch “rooster” was “gridiron”, from the “roosten” meaning “to roast”. The connection is that a roster of names is often listed on a sheet of paper that has grid lines resembling the marks left by a gridiron on roasted meat. Quite interesting …

44 Undergarment with hooks : BRA

The word “brassière” is French in origin, but it isn’t the word that the French use for a “bra”. In France, what we call a bra is known as a “soutien-gorge”, translating to “held under the neck”. The word “brassière” is indeed used in France but there it describes a baby’s undershirt, a lifebelt or a harness. “Brassière” comes from the Old French word for an “arm protector” in a military uniform (“bras” is the French for “arm”). Later “brassière” came to mean “breastplate” and from there the word was used for a type of woman’s corset. The word jumped into English around 1900.

45 Harley, e.g., informally : BIKE

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was founded in the very early 1900s by two childhood friends, William Harley and Arthur Davidson, . Their first design was in effect an engine hooked up to a pedal bicycle, but the 116 cc cylinder capacity simply couldn’t generate enough power to get up the hills of their native city of Milwaukee. The pair came up with a redesigned model that had a cylinder capacity of 405 cc, which the partners built in a shed at the back of Davidson’s house. In 1906, the partners built their first factory, located where the company’s headquarters is to this day, on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Famously, Harley motorcycles are nicknamed “hogs”.

51 St. Kitts’s island partner : NEVIS

Nevis is an island in the Caribbean Sea, which along with the island of Saint Kitts makes up the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. At the center of Nevis is a volcano, called Nevis Peak. Apparently the clouds at the top of this peak reminded someone of snow, so the island was given the Spanish name “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” (Our Lady of the Snows). The name “Nevis” then comes from “nieves”, the word for “snow”.

52 Jerry’s partner in ice cream : BEN

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield did a correspondence course on making ice-cream in 1977 that was given by Pennsylvania State University’s creamery. The following year they opened an ice cream parlor in an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Today Ben & Jerry’s has locations in over 20 countries around the world, and theirs was the first brand ice-cream to go into space.

53 Org. with code-named programs : CIA

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the successor to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed during WWII. The CIA was chartered by the National Security Act of 1947. The organization is often referred to familiarly as “the Company”.

60 Minotaur’s island : CRETE

Crete is the largest of the Greek Islands. Crete figures heavily in Greek mythology. Zeus was born in a cave at Mount Ida, the highest peak on the island. Crete was also home to the Labyrinth where the Minotaur was slain by Theseus. Icarus and Daedalus, after having crafted the Labyrinth, escaped from the island using wings that they crafted.

61 Trident-shaped letter : PSI

Psi is the 23rd and penultimate letter of the Greek alphabet, and the one that looks a bit like a trident or a pitchfork.

Down

3 Online troublemaker : TROLL

In Internet terms, a troll is someone who attempts to disrupt online group activities. The fishing term “troll” is used to describe such a person as he or she throws out off-topic remarks in an attempt to “lure” others into some emotional response. I must admit to feeling sorry for people who have such sad lives …

7 Home that may have a butler : MANOR

A butler is the head servant in a household. The butler is often in charge of the wine stores in the house. The term “butler” comes from the Old French “boteillier” meaning “officer in charge of wine”, which in terms comes from the Old French “boteille”, the word for a “bottle”.

8 Returns org. : IRS

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was set up during the Civil War to raise money to cover war expenses. Prior to the introduction of income tax in 1862, the government was funded by levies on trade and property.

10 Daniel ___, player of 007 : CRAIG

English actor Daniel Craig rocketed to fame in 2005 when he was chosen to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the series of films based on Ian Fleming’s character. One of Craig’s most famous appearances as Bond was alongside Queen Elizabeth II in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Craig married actress Rachel Weisz in 2011.

22 Canada’s oldest national park : BANFF

Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is located high in the Canadian Rockies and is a popular tourist destination. The town of Banff and the surrounding park were given their name in 1884 by then president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, George Stephen. He named Banff for his birthplace of Banffshire in Scotland.

24 Michelle who wrote “Becoming” : OBAMA

“Becoming” is a 2018 autobiographical memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama. After “Becoming” was published in November 2018, it took just 15 days for it to break the record for copies sold of any book in the US that year.

25 Improvise, in jazz : VAMP

To vamp is to improvise musically, usually on a piano. A vamp is often an accompaniment to a solo.

27 Roger Federer’s nationality : SWISS

Roger Federer is a Swiss tennis player considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer is married to former tennis pro Mirka Vavrinec. The couple are parents to two sets of twins.

33 Item made unnecessary by a pull tab : CAN OPENER

The term “pop top” refers to a whole family of designs for opening the top of a soda can. The oldest method is the “pull tab” or “ring pull”, invented in Canada in 1956. The design was long-lived, but it had its problems, so the world heaved a sigh of relief with the invention of the stay-on-tab in 1975. The new design led to less injuries and eliminated all those used pull tabs that littered the streets.

34 Bug in “A Bug’s Life” : ANT

“A Bug’s Life” is a 1998 animated feature film from Pixar. The storyline is based on the film “The Seven Samurai” and the fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper”.

35 Expert solver of a Rubik’s toy : CUBER

What was originally called the “Magic Cube” became better known as “Rubik’s Cube”, and was named for its inventor Ernő Rubik. Rubik’s Cube is the world’s biggest selling puzzle game, with over 350 million sold in just over 30 years.

38 Green dip, informally : GUAC

Guacamole is one of my favorite dishes. It is prepared by mashing avocados and perhaps adding the likes of tomato, onion and lime juice. The guacamole recipe dates back as early as the 16th century, to the time of the Aztecs. “Guacamole” translates as “avocado sauce”.

39 Princess Leia’s twin brother : LUKE

When the character Luke Skywalker was created for “Star Wars”, he was named “Annikin Starkiller”. Conceptually, he was a 60-year-old war veteran for a while, and also a female at one point. Luke is played by actor Mark Hamill in the “Star Wars” films.

Princess Leia is Luke Skywalker’s twin sister in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and was played by Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher has stated that she hated the famous “cinnamon bun hairstyle” that she had to wear in the films, as she felt it made her face look too round. She also had to sit for two hours every day just to get her hair styled. Two hours to get your hair done? It takes me just two seconds …

45 Campaign promise of Boris Johnson : BREXIT

The UK held a referendum in June 2016 in which 52% of voters chose to leave the European Union (EU). The term “Brexit” was used for the vote, a portmanteau of “Britain” and “exit”. The vote led to some debate about the future of the UK. The Scottish electorate voted for the UK to stay in the EU, and so that revived speculation about Scotland leaving the UK. There is also some discussion about Northern Ireland’s future in the UK, as the Northern Irish electorate also voted to stay in the EU.

Boris Johnson is a larger-than-life Conservative politician in the UK, and former Mayor of London. He was the very visible frontman in the campaign for the UK to exit the European Union, the so-called Brexit campaign. As a result of the UK voting to exit the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, to be replaced by Theresa May. Theresa May then appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. Almost inevitably, Boris Johnson then replaced May as Prime Minister.

50 A bunch : SCADS

The origin of the word “scads”, meaning “lots and lots”, is unclear. That said, “scads” was used to mean “dollars” back in the mid-1800s.

54 Letters on a crucifix : INRI

The letters written on the cross on which Jesus died were INRI. “INRI” is an initialism standing for the Latin “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”, which translates into English as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.

56 Angel dust letters : PCP

Phencyclidine is a recreational drug usually referred to on the street as “PCP” or “angel dust”.

57 007, for one : SPY

The character James Bond was the creation of writer Ian Fleming. Fleming “stole” the James Bond name from an American ornithologist. The number 007 was “stolen” from the real-life, 16th century English spy called John Dee. Dee would sign his reports to Queen Elizabeth I with a stylized “007” to indicate that the reports were for “her eyes only”. There’s an entertaining miniseries that aired on BBC America called “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” that details Ian Fleming’s military career, and draws some nice parallels between Fleming’s experiences and aspirations and those of his hero James Bond. Recommended …

59 Animal in a herd : GNU

The gnu is also known as the wildebeest, and is an antelope native to Africa. “Wildebeest” is a Dutch meaning “wild beast”.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Smidgens : IOTAS
6 Friend, to François : AMI
9 Sniper’s aid : SCOPE
14 Olympics symbol : TORCH
15 Symbol for an audio device : EAR
16 Big name in pest control : ORKIN
17 Crams (in) : SHOEHORNS
19 Center of U.S. lobstering : MAINE
20 Luxury purse monogram : YSL
21 Long March leader in China : MAO
22 Abandons a commitment, in slang : BAILS
23 Some romantic entanglements : LOVE TRIANGLES
28 ___ of one’s existence : BANE
29 Letters after Chuck Schumer’s name : D-NY
30 Texter’s “One more thing …” : BTW …
31 Philosopher with a “razor” : OCCAM
34 ET from the planet Melmac : ALF
35 Bank with M.L.B. naming rights, for short : CITI
36 Things clinked on New Year’s Eve : CHAMPAGNE FLUTES
40 Fey of “30 Rock” : TINA
41 Drop from the roster : CUT
42 Alternatives to taxis : UBERS
43 Prefix with freak or friendly : ECO-
44 Undergarment with hooks : BRA
45 Harley, e.g., informally : BIKE
47 Interviewing aids : TAPE RECORDERS
51 St. Kitts’s island partner : NEVIS
52 Jerry’s partner in ice cream : BEN
53 Org. with code-named programs : CIA
56 Confine, as on a farm : PEN IN
57 Subjects of health class diagrams : SEX ORGANS
60 Minotaur’s island : CRETE
61 Trident-shaped letter : PSI
62 Man’s name whose last letter often has an accent : ANDRE
63 Funeral fires : PYRES
64 “Even so …” : YET …
65 What the ends of 17-, 23-, 36-, 47- and 57-Across make : MUSIC

Down

1 Teeny-weeny : ITSY
2 Cries of awe : OOHS
3 Online troublemaker : TROLL
4 Nail, as a test : ACE
5 “Zip it!” : SHH!
6 Make fizzy, in a way : AERATE
7 Home that may have a butler : MANOR
8 Returns org. : IRS
9 A bunch : SO MANY
10 Daniel ___, player of 007 : CRAIG
11 “Sure, try me” : OK, I’LL BITE
12 Bowling alley worker, once : PINSETTER
13 L.A.-to-Chicago dir. : ENE
18 Gathering clouds, to some : OMEN
22 Canada’s oldest national park : BANFF
24 Michelle who wrote “Becoming” : OBAMA
25 Improvise, in jazz : VAMP
26 Lay off, as workers : IDLE
27 Roger Federer’s nationality : SWISS
31 Largish jazz combo : OCTET
32 Deceitful doings : CHICANERY
33 Item made unnecessary by a pull tab : CAN OPENER
34 Bug in “A Bug’s Life” : ANT
35 Expert solver of a Rubik’s toy : CUBER
37 Zoning divisions, maybe : ACRES
38 Green dip, informally : GUAC
39 Princess Leia’s twin brother : LUKE
44 Picklers’ solutions : BRINES
45 Campaign promise of Boris Johnson : BREXIT
46 Fig. on a driver’s license or passport : ID NO
48 Paperless party announcement : E-VITE
49 More than fat : OBESE
50 A bunch : SCADS
54 Letters on a crucifix : INRI
55 “Just hold on ___!” : A SEC
56 Angel dust letters : PCP
57 007, for one : SPY
58 Animal in a flock : RAM
59 Animal in a herd : GNU

12 thoughts on “0204-20 NY Times Crossword 4 Feb 20, Tuesday”

  1. 7:57. One odd mishap. For 29A I had SNY (Senator from NY) which made 26D ISLE for “Layoff, as workers” instead of IDLE. Confusion ensued for a minute or two.

    Best –

    1. @Steve … I experimented with the NYT Crossword app on my iPad and was able to access old “Wordplay” columns from July 1, 2017, onwards. Prior to that date, what I get is a generic FAQ-type page, so my guess is that there was no regular column then of the sort that there is now or that those columns have not been archived. (I could, of course, be wrong, as I have not been a regular reader of the “Wordplay” blog, so you should stay tuned, in hopes that readers who know more than I weigh in.)

    2. @Steve … Okay, so the gods are conspiring (perhaps with that guy Murphy) to make me look utterly foolish: I can now access “Wordplay” columns from times prior to July 1, 2017. Very weird … 😳

    3. @Steve … Okay, so I’m not completely crazy: The NYT Crossword app allows easy access to “Wordplay” columns from July 1, 2017, onwards, but not before. The NYT site that I access via Safari does allow access to crossword-related things from times back to July 1, 2017, and before, using the search technique that Jeff posted a link to, but the NYT app doesn’t allow access to crossword-related things at all. Very confusing … and it may be about to change, since they just told me they’re increasing the fee for my subscription, but that it will include access to the crosswords.

  2. Excellent puzzle today. I liked the revealer more than usual. The reason is that I had all the puzzle worked with the exception of the SE corner and was having a little trouble with it. So I resorted to the theme answers and, sure enough, the light went on and I saw that they all together would make MUSIC. A nice “aha moment”.

  3. 74 Min. No errors, but a little google look ups. Amazing to me how fast the rest of you are at solving. Didn’t get the theme until I finally spelled MUSIC with the down crosses. Spent a long time with:
    DNY, OCCAM, NEVIS, CHICANERY, VAMP (unnecessary cluing for a Tues IMHO), and BANFF.

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