0219-20 NY Times Crossword 19 Feb 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer(s): Swipe Right & Swipe Left

Themed answers either start or end with words that sound like synonyms of SWIPE:

  • 60A Reject romantically … or a hint to the starts of the answers to 18- and 35-Across, phonetically : SWIPE LEFT
  • 65A Show interest romantically … or a hint to the ends of the answers to 20- and 44-Across, phonetically : SWIPE RIGHT
  • 18A One competing with Uber : LYFT DRIVER (“LYFT” sounds like “LIFT”)
  • 20A Iron alloy that includes a bit of tungsten and chromium : BLUE STEEL (“STEEL” sounds like “STEAL”)
  • 35A Tchotchkes : KNICKKNACKS (“KNICK” sounds like “NICK”)
  • 44A Incompetent figure of old slapstick : KEYSTONE KOP (“KOP” sounds like “COP”)

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 7m 29s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

5 Verb conjugated suis, es, est, etc. : ETRE

The French for “to be” is “être”.

9 Third-place finisher in 1992 : PEROT

Ross Perot graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1953, as president of his class. Perot served his 4-year commitment but then resigned his commission, apparently having become somewhat disillusioned with the navy. He was ranked number 101 on the Forbes 400 List of Richest Americans in 2012, and at that time was worth about $3.5 billion. Back in 1992, Perot ran as an independent candidate for US president. He founded the Reform Party in 1995, and ran as the Reform Party candidate for president in 1996.

14 Language group of southern Africa : BANTU

There are hundreds of Bantu languages, which are mainly spoken in central, east and southern Africa. The most commonly spoken Bantu language is Swahili, with Zulu coming in second.

15 Neighbor of Cambodia : LAOS

The official name for the country of Laos is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. In the Lao language, the country’s name is “Meuang Lao”. The French ruled Laos as part of French Indochina, having united three separate Lao kingdoms. As there was a plural of “Lao” entities united into one, the French added the “S” and so today we tend to use “Laos” instead of “Lao”.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is located in the Indochina Peninsula of Southeast Asia, and is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. “Cambodia” is the English version of the country’s name, which in Khmer is “Kampuchea”.

18 One competing with Uber : LYFT DRIVER (LYFT sounds like “LIFT”)

Lyft is a ridesharing service that is based in San Francisco, as is Uber, Lyft’s biggest competitor.

24 Picture from a parlor, informally : TAT

The word “tattoo” (often shortened to “tat”) was first used in English in the writings of the famous English explorer Captain Cook. In his descriptions of the indelible marks adorning the skin of Polynesian natives, Cook anglicized the Tahitian word “tatau” into our “tattoo”. Tattoos are sometimes referred to as “ink”.

25 When repeated, a hip-hop dance : NAE

The Nae Nae is a hip hop dance that is named for the 2013 song “Drop that NaeNae” recorded by We Are Toon. The main move in the dance involves swaying with one hand in the air and one hand down, with both feet firmly planted on the dancefloor. Go on, do it. You know you want to …

35 Tchotchkes : KNICKKNACKS (“KNICK” sounds like “NICK”)

“Tchotchke” is a slang term meaning “cheap, showy trinket”.

44 Incompetent figure of old slapstick : KEYSTONE KOP (“KOP” sounds like “COP”)

The Keystone Cops (sometimes “Keystone Kops”) were a band of madcap policemen characters who appeared in silent movies. A 1914 short film called “A Thief Catcher” that was believed lost was rediscovered in 2010. “A Thief Catcher” featured the magnificent Charlie Chaplin in an early role as a Keystone Cop.

47 ___ pony : POLO

A game of polo is divided into periods of play called chukkers (sometimes “chukkas”). The game usually lasts for two hours, plus the time between the chukkers that is used to change horses.

48 Tennis champ Mandlikova : HANA

Hana Mandlikova is a former professional tennis star from Czechoslovakia. Mandlikova won four Grand Slam titles and then retired in 1990, at the ripe old age of 28.

52 T.S.A. requests : IDS

Identity document (ID)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks who check passengers and baggage at airports.

55 Grammy category : RAP

The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959 and focused on recognizing outstanding achievement in the recording industry. The idea of a Grammy Award came up when recording executives were working on the Hollywood Walk of Fame project in the fifties. These executives concluded that there were many people in the recording industry deserving of accolades but who would probably never make it to the Walk of Fame. As a result, they founded the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. The Academy considered naming the award the “Eddies” after Thomas Edison, but then opted for “Grammy” after Edison’s invention: the gramophone.

56 Something of little interest, a homeowner hopes : REFI

Refinance (refi)

58 Himalayan language : NEPALI

Nepal lies to the northeast of India. Today, the state is known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. In 2008, the Communist Party of Nepal won the country’s general election. Soon after, the Assembly voted to change the form of government, moving away from a monarchy and creating a secular republic.

The magnificent Himalaya range of mountains in Asia takes its name from the Sanskrit for “abode of snow”. Geographically, the Himalaya separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau to the north.

60 Reject romantically … or a hint to the starts of the answers to 18- and 35-Across, phonetically : SWIPE LEFT

65 Show interest romantically … or a hint to the ends of the answers to 20- and 44-Across, phonetically : SWIPE RIGHT

Many apps on phones are now using “swipe right” and “swipe left” actions to indicate “like” and dislike”. I suppose Tinder is the most famous “swipe right/swipe left” app today. It’s a dating app, so I hear …

67 Lollipop-sucking TV detective : KOJAK

“Kojak” is a fun police drama that had an original run on TV from 1973 to 1978. The title character was NYPD Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak, played by Telly Savalas. Famously, Kojak sucks away on Tootsie Pops as he tries to quit cigarettes. Kojak is assisted in his cases by Sergeant “Fatso” Stavros played by George Savalas, Telly’s younger brother. Who loves ya, baby?

69 Suffix with senior : -ITIS

“Senioritis” is the colloquial name given to the tendency of some senior students to lose motivation to study as they head towards the end of high school and college careers.

70 Muse of love poetry : ERATO

In Greek mythology, Erato was the Muse of lyric poetry. She is often depicted with a wreath of myrtle and roses, and playing a lyre.

Down

3 Like a double black diamond trail : STEEP

In North America, ski runs are given a standardized rating in terms of skiing difficulty. The ratings are:

  • Green circles: easy to ski, often termed “bunny slopes”.
  • Blue squares: medium difficulty
  • Black diamond: steep and challenging terrain
  • Double black diamond: experts only (I’ve never braved one!)

5 Fashion magazine with more than 40 international editions : ELLE

“Elle” magazine was founded in 1945 in France and today has the highest circulation of any fashion magazine in the world. “Elle” is the French word for “she”. “Elle” is published monthly worldwide, although you can pick up a weekly edition if you live in France.

6 Actor Diggs : TAYE

Taye Diggs is an actor most associated with the Broadway show “Rent”, in which he played the nasty landlord Benny. He then co-starred on the television show “Private Practice”. Diggs given name is “Scott”, and the nickname “Taye” comes from saying the given name as “Scottay”.

7 Not just “ha ha” : ROFL

Rolling on floor laughing (ROFL)

8 Winter zone in D.C. : EST

Eastern Standard Time (EST)

9 What a curse might lead to : PG RATING

The Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) film-rating system (PG-13, R, etc.) is purely voluntary and is not backed by any law. Movie theaters agree to abide by the rules that come with the MPAA ratings in exchange for access to new movies.

10 Former attorney general Holder : ERIC

Eric Holder was the Attorney General of the United States from 2009 to 2015, the first African American to hold the position. Holder was close to President Obama during the presidential campaign. Holder was the campaign’s legal advisor and was also one of the three members on the Obama vice-presidential selection committee that recommended future Vice President Joe Biden.

11 Baltimore N.F.L.’er : RAVEN

The name of the Baltimore Ravens football team has a literary derivation. Baltimore was the home of the writer Edgar Allan Poe, and so the team took its moniker from his most famous poem, “The Raven”. The name was selected in a fan contest. Baltimore’s mascot is a raven named Poe. Prior to the 2008 season, the Raven’s had a trio of avian mascots: Edgar, Allan and Poe.

12 “Don Giovanni,” e.g. : OPERA

“Don Giovanni” is a comic opera by Mozart, with a libretto in Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera follows the adventures of Don Giovanni, a young rakish nobleman who finally comes to a bad end.

14 “Just a sec!,” in a text : BRB!

Be right back (brb)

27 Onetime buffalo-hunting tribe : OTOE

The Otoe (also “Oto”) Native American tribe originated in the Great Lakes region as part of the Winnebago or Siouan tribes. The group that would become the Otoe broke away from the Winnebago and migrated southwestward, ending up in the Great Plains. In the plains the Otoe adopted a semi-nomadic lifestyle dependent on the horse, with the American bison becoming central to their diet.

32 Camper’s cover : TARP

Originally, tarpaulins were made from canvas covered in tar that rendered the material waterproof. The word “tarpaulin” comes from “tar” and “palling”, with “pall” meaning “heavy cloth covering”.

39 Kiss amorously : SNOG

“Snogging” is British slang of unknown origin that dates back to the end of WWII. The term is used for “kissing and cuddling”, what we call “making out” over here in the US.

46 ___ walk : PERP

When a crime suspect in the custody of the police is walked through a public place, often to and from a courthouse, it is known as a “perp walk”.

50 Harry Potter’s Quidditch position : SEEKER

Quidditch is a game that is famously played in the “Harry Potter” series of books and films. The game is contended by two teams of seven wizards or witches flying on broomsticks. There are four animated balls and six ring-shaped goals floating in mid-air. One of the balls is the Golden Snitch, and one of the players is the Seeker. It is the Seeker’s sole purpose to capture the Golden Snitch and thereby win the game.

53 ___ flask (thermos) : DEWAR

The vacuum flask was invented in 1892 by Sir James Dewar. It comprises two flasks, one inside the other, joined at the neck. The air between the walls of the two flasks is expelled, creating a near-vacuum. This vacuum minimizes heat transfer, so that liquids in the inner flask remain hot or cold longer. Two German glassblowers commercialized Dewar’s design, starting in 1904, and sold the flasks under the trademarked name “Thermos”. Thermos is still a registered trademark in some countries, but was deemed a genericized trademark in the US in 1963.

57 Herbivore’s diet : FLORA

The fauna is the animal life of a particular region, and the flora is that region’s plant life. The term “fauna” comes from the Roman goddess of earth and fertility who was called Fauna. Flora was the Roman goddess of plants, flowers and fertility.

60 Capt.’s inferiors : SGTS

The rank of lieutenant (lt.) is superior to the rank of sergeant (sgt.), and below the rank of captain (capt.).

61 Legislature V.I.P. : WHIP

In the world of politics, the party whip is the “heavy”, the person whose job it is to ensure that party members vote according to party policy. “Whip” comes from “whipping in”, a term used in hunting. Any hounds tending to stray from the pack were “whipped in” to prevent them wandering off. “Whipping in” hounds sounds so cruel. “Whipping in” politicians, maybe not so much …

64 Ring result, for short : TKO

Technical knockout (TKO)

66 :15 number : III

At 15 mins past the hour, the minute-hand points to the number 3 (III).

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Drop a line? : FISH
5 Verb conjugated suis, es, est, etc. : ETRE
9 Third-place finisher in 1992 : PEROT
14 Language group of southern Africa : BANTU
15 Neighbor of Cambodia : LAOS
16 Jelly option : GRAPE
17 Reduces to bits : RICES
18 One competing with Uber : LYFT DRIVER (LYFT sounds like “LIFT”)
20 Iron alloy that includes a bit of tungsten and chromium : BLUE STEEL (“STEEL” sounds like “STEAL”)
22 People in go-karts : RACERS
23 Mast : SPAR
24 Picture from a parlor, informally : TAT
25 When repeated, a hip-hop dance : NAE
26 Add (up) : TOT
28 Volunteer for another tour : RE-UP
31 Not yet out of the running : IN IT
33 Physics 101 subject : ATOM
35 Tchotchkes : KNICKKNACKS (“KNICK” sounds like “NICK”)
40 Fountain choices : SODAS
42 Verbal tussle : SPAT
43 Response to a computer crash : GROAN
44 Incompetent figure of old slapstick : KEYSTONE KOP (“KOP” sounds like “COP”)
47 ___ pony : POLO
48 Tennis champ Mandlikova : HANA
49 Just gets (by) : EKES
51 Pony ___ : KEG
52 T.S.A. requests : IDS
55 Grammy category : RAP
56 Something of little interest, a homeowner hopes : REFI
58 Himalayan language : NEPALI
60 Reject romantically … or a hint to the starts of the answers to 18- and 35-Across, phonetically : SWIPE LEFT
65 Show interest romantically … or a hint to the ends of the answers to 20- and 44-Across, phonetically : SWIPE RIGHT
67 Lollipop-sucking TV detective : KOJAK
68 Wyatt and Warren of the Old West : EARPS
69 Suffix with senior : -ITIS
70 Muse of love poetry : ERATO
71 Something done up in an updo : TRESS
72 Popular game that needs no equipment : I SPY
73 Few and far between : RARE

Down

1 Not get above 60, say : FAIL
2 Behind bars : IN CUSTODY
3 Like a double black diamond trail : STEEP
4 Hungarian horseman : HUSSAR
5 Fashion magazine with more than 40 international editions : ELLE
6 Actor Diggs : TAYE
7 Not just “ha ha” : ROFL
8 Winter zone in D.C. : EST
9 What a curse might lead to : PG RATING
10 Former attorney general Holder : ERIC
11 Baltimore N.F.L.’er : RAVEN
12 “Don Giovanni,” e.g. : OPERA
13 Lacking in detail : TERSE
14 “Just a sec!,” in a text : BRB!
19 Chugged or sipped : DRANK
21 Go the distance? : TREK
24 Popular video-sharing service : TIKTOK
26 Project manager’s assignment : TASK
27 Onetime buffalo-hunting tribe : OTOE
29 Open, as a purse : UNSNAP
30 Part of a church organ : PIPE
32 Camper’s cover : TARP
34 Pulp : MASH
36 Wedding reception staple : CAKE
37 Embarrassing thing to have one’s hand caught in : COOKIE JAR
38 Member of the cabbage family : KALE
39 Kiss amorously : SNOG
41 Like an overcast night : STARLESS
45 Studio sign : ON AIR
46 ___ walk : PERP
50 Harry Potter’s Quidditch position : SEEKER
52 Alaska or Hawaii, often : INSET
53 ___ flask (thermos) : DEWAR
54 Steeple topper : SPIRE
57 Herbivore’s diet : FLORA
59 24-Down and others : APPS
60 Capt.’s inferiors : SGTS
61 Legislature V.I.P. : WHIP
62 Tiny, informally : ITSY
63 It’s unavoidable : FATE
64 Ring result, for short : TKO
66 :15 number : III

25 thoughts on “0219-20 NY Times Crossword 19 Feb 20, Wednesday”

  1. 26:12 and as a card carrying Neanderthal, I had no clue about swiping direction and romantic interest. I guess that’s how you stay married for 40 plus years….

  2. 17:49. My only comment about the theme: No comment. I looked it up, the Dewar flask is a different Dewar from the family who makes scotch.

    I once played a soccer game against a group from central Africa. My friend asked me, “Zulus?”. I replied, “Of course not. We won…” I learned that joke when I was 8 years old, but the classics still work.

    Best-

  3. Jim, my assumption was that the clock face had Roman numerals, hence fifteen minutes past the hour would be “III”. Disclaimer: my assumptions are frequently wrong…

  4. Not too much trouble, though after entering TENT at 32D, I couldn’t make any crosses work, but those led me to TARP eventually.

    1. Thanks, Eurekajoe, for catching that grid error. Not sure what went wrong, but it’s fixed now. I appreciate the help, as always.

  5. Jim

    On certain dating apps for phones, pictures pop up. Interest or rejection are indicated by swiping the screen to the left or to the right.

  6. I still don’t understand how swipe right and swipe left are hints to “lift,” “steel,” “knick” and “kop.”

    1. Both “mast” and “spar” are things on a sailing ship (though I’m not sure of the exact definitions). One definition of “spar” that I just found is “a thick, strong pole such as is used for a mast or yard on a ship”.

    2. I should have said “both a mast and a spar are things …” or “both ‘mast’ and ‘spar’ refer to things …”. (Haste makes for clumsy syntax as well as waste … 😜.)

  7. Wow, I know what swiping left and swiping right refers to. But I did not get the connection to the themed answers.

    This whole thing was a mess for me even though I only had one error.

    I think The theme must have befuddled even Bill.

  8. Agree that swipes right and left are befuddling answers to romantic attractions and rejections. Later tracked down the dating apps angle and groaned.

  9. One error at the ETRE/TAYE Cross. I put an S instead of a T. Had never heard of NICK as a synonym for SWIPE. All in all, a pretty awful puzzle. A “weird Wednesday”.

  10. I think the theme problem has less to do with the “swipe” slang and more to do with the disconnect between idea of romance and the idea of stealing. The two ideas (two parts of the theme) don’t fit.

  11. Hmmmm … Recent times have brought us a couple of new phrases: “swipe left” and “swipe right”. And, one meaning of “swipe” is “steal”. Two theme entries in this puzzle have a phonetic synonym of “swipe” on the left end and two other entries have such a synonym on the right end. A bit involved, but … what’s not to understand?! Don’t we see this kind of word play in crosswords all the time?!

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