0220-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Feb 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Joe Deeney
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Pieces of Eight

Themed answers in the across-direction include the number 8 (representing “ATE”). Those same squares are read as “OO” in the down-direction:

  • 53A Pirate plunder … or a hint to interpreting an appropriate number of squares in this puzzle : PIECES OF EIGHT
  • 17A Awake during the wee hours, say : UP LATE
  • 20A Journalism : THE FOURTH ESTATE
  • 35A Dismissive response to critics : HATERS GONNA HATE
  • 40A Parking lot event : TAILGATE PARTY
  • 59A Adult : X-RATED
  • 61A At dinner and then the cinema, say : ON A DATE
  • 62A What a volcano may leave : CRATER
  • 10D Spike Lee film set at a historically black college : SCHOOL DAZE
  • 14D Flub : GOOF UP
  • 26D Is nosy : SNOOPS
  • 28D “We can’t joke about that yet?” : TOO SOON?
  • 34D Eddies : WHIRLPOOLS
  • 51D Oprah’s “The Color Purple” co-star : WHOOPI
  • 58D Tricks : FOOLS

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 20m 33s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Two-time Time magazine Person of the Year : OBAMA

“Time” magazine started naming a “Man of the Year” in 1927, only changing the concept to “Person of the Year” in 1999. Prior to 1999, the magazine did recognize four females as “Woman of the Year”: Wallis Simpson (1936), Soong May-ling a.k.a. Madame Chiang Kai-shek (1937), Queen Elizabeth II (1952) and Corazon Aquino (1986). “Time” named Albert Einstein as Person of the Century in 1999, with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi as runners-up.

9 Say maybe, maybe : RSVP

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

13 “The Americans” K.G.B. officer ___ Burov : OLEG

“The Americans” is a very engaging drama series set during the Cold War that features two KGB spies living as a married couple just outside Washington, D.C. The show was created by Joe Weisberg, who is a novelist and former CIA officer. The lead roles in “The Americans” are played by real-life couple Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.

The “Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti” (KGB) was the national security agency of the Soviet Union until 1991. The KGB was dissolved after the agency’s chairman led a failed attempt at a coup d’état designed to depose President Mikhail Gorbachev.

16 Summer cooler : ICEE

Icee and Slurpee are brand names of slushy drinks. Ugh …

20 Journalism : THE FOURTH ESTATE

Starting in the Middle Ages, several societies operated with a hierarchical social order known as “the estates of the realm”. For example, the French used a scheme known as the “Ancien Régime” in which the clergy made up the First Estate, the nobility the Second Estate, and the commoners the Third Estate. The English used a two-estate system in which the bishops and nobility made up the First Estate (“the Lords”) and the commoners the Second Estate (“the Commons”). In modern parlance, the press and media are considered forces outside of the established power structure, and can be referred to as the Fourth Estate. The even more contemporary “Fifth Estate” refers to publishers using blogs and social media.

27 Smith of punk rock : PATTI

Patti Smith is a singer-songwriter who was a big player in the seventies punk rock movement in New York City. Smith’s most successful song is “Because the Night”, a song co-written with Bruce Springsteen and recorded by Smith in 1978. Her influence in the punk rock scene earned Smith the nickname “Godmother of Punk”.

38 French greeting : SALUT

In French, “salut” means “hi”, and is less formal than “bonjour”. The term can also be used as a friendly toast.

44 Nation’s borders? : ENS

The ends of the word “nation” are letters N (ens).

46 “Sweet and healing medicine of troubles,” per Horace : MUSIC

One of ancient Rome’s leading lyric poets was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or “Horace” as we tend to know him. Horace’s most famous work is probably his collection of Latin lyric poems titled “Carmina” (the Latin for “Odes).

48 Town that inspired “The House of the Seven Gables” : SALEM

Salem is a seaport on the Massachusetts coast. It is noted as the location of the Salem witch trials of 1692, an event that the city commemorates during the run-up to Halloween every year in October.

I had the pleasure of visiting the charming House of Seven Gables a few years ago in Salem, Massachusetts. The core of the house was built in 1668, for one Captain John Turner, and overlooks Salem Harbor. After a couple of generations, the house had to be sold by the Turners and it was purchased by the Ingersoll family. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne was a relative of the Ingersolls and often visited the house growing up. It was this house that gave Hawthorn the title for his famous Gothic novel “The House of the Seven Gables”.

53 Pirate plunder … or a hint to interpreting an appropriate number of squares in this puzzle : PIECES OF EIGHT

The peso is used in many Spanish-speaking countries around the world. The coin originated in Spain where the word “peso” means “weight”. The original peso was what we know in English as a “piece of eight”, a silver coin of a specific weight that had a nominal value of eight “reales”.

59 Adult : X-RATED

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.

62 What a volcano may leave : CRATER

Our word “volcano” comes from “Vulcano”, the name of a volcanic island off the coast of Italy. The island’s name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Romans believed that the island of Vulcano was the chimney of the forge belonging to the god Vulcan. The Romans also believed that the eruptions on Mount Etna in Sicily were caused by Vulcan getting angry and working his forge so hard that sparks and smoke flew out of the top of the volcano.

65 Hat worn by Charles de Gaulle : KEPI

A kepi is a circular cap with a visor, one that’s particularly associated with the French military.

Charles de Gaulle was a colonel in the French army at the outbreak of WWII. He was promoted to brigadier general after a successful attack on German tank forces in 1940, one of the few successes enjoyed by the French at the start of the war. Some months later, he was appointed junior minister in the French government, at which time he strenuously argued against surrender to Germany, advocating removal of the government to the French territory of Algeria. He was unsuccessful in his arguments and so flew to England where he set about building the Free French Forces from soldiers who had also fled the country. De Gaulle made several important radio addresses to the French from London that helped rally the resistance movement. Despite a shaky relationship with Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower, De Gaulle managed to maintain a working relationship with the rest of the Allies and was accepted as leader of the new French government when Paris was liberated in 1944.

Down

7 Speed measure : MACH

Supersonic transports (SSTs) like the Concorde broke Mach 1, the speed of sound. As a plane flies through the air, it creates pressure waves in front (and behind) rather like the bow and stern waves of a boat. These pressure waves travel at the speed of sound, so as an aircraft itself accelerates towards the speed of sound it catches up with the pressure waves until they cannot “get out of the way”. When the aircraft reaches the speed of sound, the compressed waves merge into one single shock wave, creating a sonic boom.

8 He beat Connors in the Wimbledon final in 1975 : ASHE

The great American tennis player Arthur Ashe spent the last years of his life writing his memoir called “Days of Grace”. He finished the manuscript just a few days before he passed away, dying from AIDS caused by a tainted blood transfusion.

9 Oscar-nominated actor with nearly synonymous first and last names : RIP TORN

Rip Torn was the actor who played the veteran television producer Artie on “The Larry Sanders Show”. That said, I always associate Torn with the role of Agent Zed in the “Men in Black” movies. Torn was married three times, to actresses Ann Wedgeworth, Geraldine Page and Amy Wright. His first cousin is actress Sissy Spacek. “Rip” is a nickname that runs in the Torn family. The actor was born Elmore Rual Torn, Jr.

10 Spike Lee film set at a historically black college : SCHOOL DAZE

Film director Spike Lee was born in Atlanta, Georgia but has very much made New York City his home and place of work. Most of Lee’s films are set in New York City, including his first feature film, 1986’s “She’s Gotta Have It”. That film was shot over two weeks with a budget of $175,000. “She’s Gotta Have It” grossed over $7 million at the US box office.

12 Support for a religious group? : PEW

A pew is a bench in a church, one usually with a high back. The original pews were raised and sometimes enclosed seats in the church used by women and important men or families. “Pew” comes from the Old French “puie” meaning “balcony, elevation”.

21 Hawaiian food fish : OPAH

“Opah” is the more correct name for the fish also known as the sunfish, moonfish or Jerusalem haddock. I’ve seen one in the Monterey Aquarium. It is one huge fish …

25 Actress Lindsay of “Mean Girls” : LOHAN

I think that actress Lindsay Lohan’s big break came with the Disney remake of “The Parent Trap” in 1998. I’ve really only enjoyed one of Lohan’s films though, “Freaky Friday” from 2003 in which she stars alongside the fabulous Jamie Lee Curtis.

“Mean Girls” is a teen comedy movie released in 2004 starring Lindsay Lohan. Tina Fey also puts in an appearance, which really isn’t surprising as Fey wrote the screenplay.

31 Actress Annie of “Young Sheldon” : POTTS

Annie Potts is an actress from Nashville, Tennessee. She had roles in successful films such as “Ghostbusters” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and did voice work for “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”. Potts was lucky to survive a car crash when she was 21 years old, as she broke nearly every bone in her lower body.

“Young Sheldon” is a spinoff prequel to the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” that follows the life of a 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper. The title character is played by child actor Iain Armitage. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”, is the narrator for the spinoff, and is also an executive producer. In another link between the shows, young Sheldon’s Mom is played by actress Zoe Perry. Perry is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf, who plays “old” Sheldon’s mom in the original series.

32 Pockets of the Middle East? : PITAS

Pita is a lovely bread from Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Pita is usually round, and has a “pocket” in the center. The pocket is created by steam that puffs up the dough during cooking leaving a void when the bread cools.

33 Grilled, at a taqueria : ASADA

The name of the dish called “carne asada” translates from Spanish as “roasted meat”.

36 Expert : GURU

“Guru” is a Hindi word meaning “teacher” or “priest”.

42 Hearts or spades : GAME

Hearts is a fun card game that is in the Whist family of trick-taking games, as are bridge (my favorite) and spades.

51 Oprah’s “The Color Purple” co-star : WHOOPI

Whoopi Goldberg’s real name is Caryn Elaine Johnson. Goldberg is multi-talented, and is one of a very short list of entertainers to have won all four major showbiz awards:

  • an Oscar (for “Ghost”)
  • an Emmy (two, for “The View”)
  • a Grammy (for “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, as a producer)
  • a Tony (also for producing “Thoroughly Modern Millie”)

Whoopi Goldberg played Celie Harris Johnson in Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple”, the 1985 screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

Oprah Winfrey’s multimedia production company is known as Harpo Studios. “Harpo” is “Oprah” spelled backwards, and is also the name of the husband of the character who Winfrey played in the movie “The Color Purple”.

52 Word after New York or Las Vegas : … STRIP

Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City, which dates back to 1827, had a signature cut of short loin that was served as a Delmonico steak. That same cut came to be known in the US as a New York strip steak, due to the association with the city and the restaurant.

The stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard on which most of the big casinos are concentrated is referred to as the “Las Vegas Strip”. The Strip was named for LA’s Sunset Strip by former Los Angeles law enforcement officer Guy McAfee. McAfee was a notoriously corrupt head of the LAPD vice squad in 1920s and 1930s who ran several brothels and gambling saloons. McAfee moved to Las Vegas in 1939 where he opened several casinos, including the Golden Nugget.

55 Blyton who wrote “The Enchanted Wood” : ENID

Enid Blyton wrote stories for children that were very popular when I was growing up in Britain and Ireland. Not so long ago, I purchased and reread my favorite of her stories growing up, a children’s novel called “The Secret Island”.

56 Stuffing ingredient : SAGE

In Britain, sage is listed as one of the four essential herbs. And those would be “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”.

57 For whom Wednesday is named : ODIN

In Norse mythology, Odin was the chief of the gods. Odin’s wife Frigg was the queen of Asgard whose name gave us our English term “Friday” (via Anglo-Saxon). Odin’s son was Thor, whose name gave us the term “Thursday”. Odin himself gave us our word “Wednesday” from “Wodin”, the English form of his name.

59 Sports org. with the New York Guardians and Seattle Dragons : XFL

The XFL was an American Football league that only survived for one season. The intention of the league was to provide football fans with something to watch in the off-season, but the fans didn’t bother. There was discussion when the league was founded that “XFL” would stand for “Extreme” Football League, but the decision was made to let the “X” stand for nothing at all.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Cantina : BAR
4 Two-time Time magazine Person of the Year : OBAMA
9 Say maybe, maybe : RSVP
13 “The Americans” K.G.B. officer ___ Burov : OLEG
15 Robert Galbraith, to J. K. Rowling : ALIAS
16 Summer cooler : ICEE
17 Awake during the wee hours, say : UP LATE
18 Gut feeling : HUNCH
19 “That was a close one!” : PHEW!
20 Journalism : THE FOURTH ESTATE
23 Showed sudden interest : SAT UP
24 They close at 9 p.m. in New York : POLLS
27 Smith of punk rock : PATTI
31 “Excuse me!” : PARDON!
32 Nail site : PAW
35 Dismissive response to critics : HATERS GONNA HATE
37 Approximately, informally : -ISH
38 French greeting : SALUT
39 Nuke : ZAP
40 Parking lot event : TAILGATE PARTY
44 Nation’s borders? : ENS
45 Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dantley : ADRIAN
46 “Sweet and healing medicine of troubles,” per Horace : MUSIC
48 Town that inspired “The House of the Seven Gables” : SALEM
49 Goes (through) laboriously : PLOWS
53 Pirate plunder … or a hint to interpreting an appropriate number of squares in this puzzle : PIECES OF EIGHT
59 Adult : X-RATED
61 At dinner and then the cinema, say : ON A DATE
62 What a volcano may leave : CRATER
63 Opposite of drain : FILL
64 One may be held by candlelight : VIGIL
65 Hat worn by Charles de Gaulle : KEPI
66 Go down : LOSE
67 Chicago’s ___ Expressway : EDENS
68 Taste : SIP

Down

1 Fits : BOUTS
2 ___ dog : ALPHA
3 Subleased : RELET
4 Where the Ko’olau Range is located : OAHU
5 Busy day, in retrospect : BLUR
6 “___ that somethin’?” : AIN’T
7 Speed measure : MACH
8 He beat Connors in the Wimbledon final in 1975 : ASHE
9 Oscar-nominated actor with nearly synonymous first and last names : RIP TORN
10 Spike Lee film set at a historically black college : SCHOOL DAZE
11 Notch shape : VEE
12 Support for a religious group? : PEW
14 Flub : GOOF UP
21 Hawaiian food fish : OPAH
22 Cross : SPAN
25 Actress Lindsay of “Mean Girls” : LOHAN
26 Is nosy : SNOOPS
28 “We can’t joke about that yet?” : TOO SOON?
29 Golfer’s obstacle : TRAP
30 Nation of ___ : ISLAM
31 Actress Annie of “Young Sheldon” : POTTS
32 Pockets of the Middle East? : PITAS
33 Grilled, at a taqueria : ASADA
34 Eddies : WHIRLPOOLS
36 Expert : GURU
41 Gather dust : LIE IDLE
42 Hearts or spades : GAME
43 Cry of surprise : YIPE!
47 Hit it off : CLICK
50 People eaters : OGRES
51 Oprah’s “The Color Purple” co-star : WHOOPI
52 Word after New York or Las Vegas : … STRIP
54 Spot to lay anchor : COVE
55 Blyton who wrote “The Enchanted Wood” : ENID
56 Stuffing ingredient : SAGE
57 For whom Wednesday is named : ODIN
58 Tricks : FOOLS
59 Sports org. with the New York Guardians and Seattle Dragons : XFL
60 Brazil’s ___ Roosevelt : RIO

15 thoughts on “0220-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Feb 20, Thursday”

  1. 20:45, no errors. It took me a long time to figure out the gimmick and I wasted a lot of time putting in “OO” rebuses before I understood that each should be changed to an “8”.

    I very much enjoyed this rather puzzling puzzle, but I think the answer to 35A might turn out to be a prophetic (and entirely appropriate) response to some of the comments it will evoke … 😜

  2. 35:14 Fortunately the electronic version allowed “OO” to be acceptable or I would have never heard “the music”. It never occurred to me(surprise, surprise)to use the number “8” as I was too fixated on “ate” to see the homophones…

  3. I did find errors in this solution: ENP instead of ENS, SPP instead of SIP, WH8PP instead of WH8PI, WHIRLP8LL instead of WHIRLP8LS, and PARLON instead of PARDON (and SCH8LLAZE instead of SCH8LDAZE).

  4. 28:47. I got the OO/ATE rebuses (rebi?) at WHIRLP8LS/XR8T, but I entered the letters, not “8”. Like Duncan says, the NYT software let is slide. I didn’t get the full theme until I saw the solved puzzle with the 8’s. Very clever.

    I was a huge fan of “The Americans”. I was sorry to see it end. From what I understand, its ratings were such that is should have been canceled very quickly. Fortunately, the producer and the network were so dedicated to the show that it lasted 6 seasons anyway.

    Best –

  5. 47:13 no errors…I did fill in the rebus squares with oo/ate but I still don’t understand how the number 8 can suffice for the oo in the down clues

    1. Jack –

      An “8” can be seen as two “O’s” one on top of the other. Of course you might need to squint to see that

      Best –

  6. I, too, filled with OO/ATE but I’ll still give myself a win. I work in pen and my grid looked like an image in a Rorschach test when I was finished.

    1. @Dave—-May I perhaps offer a suggestion on the pen you are using. I much prefer ink over pencil and the Pilot Frixion erasable ink pen is the way to go. The ink is heat-sensitive and disappears by way of the heat generated in erasing. I use the Frixion 10 which is a larger size that has recently been added to the lineup. I am now spoiled and won’t use anything else. You might want to give it a try.

  7. No errors after a lot of hard work on this one. I was fortunate to get the PIECES OF EIGHT revealer almost immediately. That made a huge difference. The secondary use of the 8 used as a double O on the Downs also came to me within the first four or five fill-ins. So with a lot of the solving already done, the rest was just to painstakingly fill in the rest.

    I’ve got to hand it to the constructor. This was a great piece of work.

  8. Finished it all, got the ‘ate’, but didn’t get the ‘oo’ until I read this site. Maybe a bit of a stretch, but a good tough Thursday

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