0227-20 NY Times Crossword 27 Feb 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Francis Heaney
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Schrödinger’s Cat

There’s a note with today’s puzzle:

This puzzle has 16 solutions.

I didn’t spot this note until after I filled in one of those solutions, and assumed I was done. Once I read the note, it took me quite a while longer to work out what was going on. There are four pairs of squares in the grid in which a particular letter can go in either of the paired squares. For example, the answer to 18-across is OMS. The M can go in the left square (making 12-down WHOM and 1-down BOOS). The M can also go in the right square (making 12-down WHO and 1-down BOOMS). The four moveable letters in the grid spell out M-E-O-W!

  • 6D Quantum mechanics thought experiment in which contradictory states exist simultaneously : SCHRODINGER’S CAT
  • 18A Mantra chants : OMS
  • 1D Sounds that can startle : BOOMS or BOOS
  • 12D Pronoun that can ask a question : WHO or WHOM
  • 33A Opposite of masc. : FEM
  • 33D Go to extremes, foodwise : FAST or FEAST
  • 34D Buildup during vacation : EMAIL or MAIL
  • 39A Zenith : TOP
  • 25D “Swell!” : NEAT! or NEATO!
  • 26D Sag : DROOP or DROP
  • 53A A pair : TWO
  • 53D Many a middle schooler : TEEN or TWEEN
  • 54D Possible reactions to shocks : WOWS or OWS

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 8m 12s (and then another 5 minutes or so, so spot the MEOW!)

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 British brew since 1777 : BASS

The red triangle on the label of a bottle of Bass Ale was registered in 1875 and is UK Registered Trade Mark (TM) No: 00001, the first trademark issued in the world.

5 Early challenge for Barack and Michelle Obama, for short : LSAT

Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

Michelle Obama née Robinson grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Her brother is Craig Robinson, former coach of men’s basketball at Oregon State University. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Michelle Robinson worked as an associate at the Chicago office of the Sidley Austin law firm. Barack Obama joined the firm as a summer associate and Michelle Robinson was assigned to mentor him, and as they say, one thing led to another …

13 Bill of Rights defender, in brief : ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has its roots in the First World War. It grew out of the National Civil Liberties Bureau (CLB) that was founded to provide legal advice and support to conscientious objectors. The ACLU’s motto is “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself”. The ACLU also hosts a blog on the ACLU.org website called “Speak Freely”.

The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787. There have been 27 amendments to the constitution, the first ten of which are collectively called the Bill of Rights. In essence the Bill of Rights limits the power of the Federal Government and protects the rights of individuals. For example, the First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

14 Dracula accessory : CAPE

“Dracula” is a novel written by the Irish author Bram Stoker and first published in 1897. Dracula wasn’t the first vampire of literature, but he certainly was the one who spawned the popularity of vampires in theater, film and television, and indeed more novels. Personally, I can’t stand vampire fiction …

18 Mantra chants : OMS

“Om” is a sacred mystic word from the Hindu tradition. “Om” is sometimes used as a mantra, a focus for the mind in meditation.

A mantra is a word that is used as a focus for the mind while meditating. The term is Sanskrit in origin, and is now used figuratively in English to describe any oft-repeated word or phrase.

22 “I, Claudius” role : NERO

Nero was Emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 CE, and towards the end of his reign participated in the Olympic Games in the year 67. The Roman leader raced in a ten-horse chariot, of which he lost control and nearly perished after being thrown from the vehicle. Acting and singing were Olympic events back then, and Nero also took part in those competitions. By all accounts, Nero performed badly in every event in which he vied, and yet somehow still managed to win Olympic crowns that he paraded around Rome on his return from Greece.

“I, Claudius” is a 1934 novel penned by Robert Graves, written in the form of an autobiography of Emperor Claudius of Rome. Graves wrote a sequel in 1935 called “Claudius the God”. Both books were adapted by the BBC into a fabulous television series that went by the name of the first book “I, Claudius”.

31 Certain rough patches : BRIARS

“Briar” is a generic name describing several plants that have thorns or prickles, including the rose. Famously, Br’er Rabbit lives in a briar patch.

35 Part of Indochina : LAOS

In the strict sense of the term, “Indochina” is a region in Southeast Asia that corresponds to the former French territory known as French Indochina. Today this region is made up of the countries of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. However, the term “Indochina” is more generally used to describe Mainland Southeast Asia, and in this usage it also encompasses Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

36 Jargon : LINGO

Lingo is specialized vocabulary. Journalese and legalese would be good examples.

The noun “jargon” can describe nonsensical and meaningless talk, or the specialized language of a particular group, trade or profession. The term “jargon” is Old French, with the more usual meaning of “chattering”. How apt …

39 Zenith : TOP

The nadir is the direction pointing immediately below a particular location (through to the other side of the Earth for example). The opposite direction, that pointing immediately above, is called the zenith. We use the terms “nadir” and “zenith” figuratively to mean the low and high points in a person’s fortunes.

48 Camper driver : RV’ER

One using a recreational vehicle (RV) might be called an RVer.

50 Joan ___, player of Pat Nixon in 1995’s “Nixon” : ALLEN

“Nixon” is a 1995 Oliver Stone biopic in which Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins plays US president Richard Nixon. This was Stone’s second film about the American presidency, after “JFK” (1991) and before “W” (2008).

57 Hall-of-Fame hitter Rod : CAREW

Rod Carew is a former Major League Baseball player from Panama. Actually. Carew is a “Zonian”, meaning that he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, a political entity that existed for decades from 1903.

60 Fearsome part of a Jabberwock : CLAW

Here are the first two verses of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, probably the one poem that we all just loved learning to recite at school

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

Down

4 The Kaaba in Mecca, e.g. : SHRINE

The Kaaba is a large, cube-shaped structure that resides in a mosque in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. According to the Qur’an, the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham and his son, Ishmael. When Muslims turn to face Mecca during prayers, they are actually turning to the Kaaba.

6 Quantum mechanics thought experiment in which contradictory states exist simultaneously : SCHRODINGER’S CAT

Erwin Schrödinger was an Austrian theoretical physicist, one of the so-called “fathers of Quantum Mechanics”. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933 for developing the Schrödinger Equation, the “Newton’s Law” of Quantum Mechanics. Famously, Schrödinger devised a thought experiment that illustrates the concept of a paradox. The scenario, known as “Schrödinger’s Cat”, presents us with a cat that can be both alive and dead at the same time. I used to think that I understood Schrödinger’s Cat, and then I became old and wise, and recognized my weaknesses …

7 Bar orders : ALES

The many, many different styles of beer can generally be sorted into two groups: ales and lagers. Ales are fermented at relatively warm temperatures for relatively short periods of time, and use top-fermenting yeasts, i.e. yeasts that float on top of the beer as it ferments. Lagers ferment at relatively low temperatures and for relatively long periods of time. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeasts, i.e. yeasts that fall to the bottom of the beer as it ferments.

10 Ivy seen along the Schuylkill River : UPENN

The University of Pennsylvania (also “Penn” and “UPenn”) was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin. Penn was the first school in the country to offer both graduate and undergraduate courses. Penn’s sports teams are known as the Quakers, and sometimes the Red & Blue.

17 Iridescent stones : OPALS

An opal is often described as having a milky iridescence known as opalescence.

23 Like the boys in “Lord of the Flies” : MAROONED

“Lord of the Flies” is such a great story! William Golding wrote the novel as an allegory of society. The most famous screen adaptation was made in 1963, directed by Peter Brook.

29 “Aladdin” parrot : IAGO

In the 1992 Disney feature “Aladdin”, there is a parrot called Iago. Iago is voiced by the comic Gilbert Gottfried.

32 Amazonas and others : RIOS

In Spanish, “el Amazonas” (the Amazon) is a “río” (river).

38 Fannie ___ : MAE

The Federal National Mortgage Association is commonly called “Fannie Mae”, a play on the initialism FNMA. Fannie Mae was founded during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

45 Surgery to improve how you look? : LASIK

LASIK surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea of the eye to improve vision. The LASIK acronym stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis”.

47 Big name in cosmetics : ALMAY

The Almay brand of cosmetics was established back in 1931. Almay was founded by Alfred and Fanny May Woititz, who melded their given names to come up with the brand name (Al-may). The couple were driven to invent the products as Fanny May needed cosmetics that did not irritate her skin.

49 YouTube data : VIEWS

YouTube is a video-sharing website that was launched in 2005 by three ex-PayPal employees. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Yep, $1.65 billion, less than two years after it was founded …

51 Java neighbor : BALI

Bali is both an island and a province in Indonesia. It is a popular tourist spot, although the number of visitors dropped for a few years as a result of terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 that killed mainly tourists. Bali became more popular starting in 2008 due to a significant and favorable change in the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indonesian rupiah.

52 Madras wrap : SARI

The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that is unstitched along the whole of its length. The strip of cloth can range from four to nine meters long (that’s a lot of material!). The sari is usually wrapped around the waist, then draped over the shoulder leaving the midriff bare. I must say, it can be a beautiful item of clothing.

The government of India has been changing the names of cities since the end of British rule in 1947. Bombay was renamed to Mumbai in 1995, and Madras became Chennai a year later, in 1996.

56 Angel dust : PCP

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

58 Oval thing in the Oval Office : RUG

Although there have been several “oval” offices used by US presidents in the White House, the current Oval Office was designed and constructed at the bequest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The room has four doors. One door opens onto the Rose Garden; a second door leads to a small study and dining room; a third opens onto the main corridor running through the West Wing; the fourth door opens to the office of the president’s secretary.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 British brew since 1777 : BASS
5 Early challenge for Barack and Michelle Obama, for short : LSAT
9 Streak : RUN
12 Usefulness : WORTH
13 Bill of Rights defender, in brief : ACLU
14 Dracula accessory : CAPE
15 Big fly at the ballpark : HOMER
16 See 14-Down : THE BORDER
18 Mantra chants : OMS
19 Underground workers : MINERS
21 “What’s the ___?” : POINT
22 “I, Claudius” role : NERO
23 Layers of stone : MASONS
24 One of the Twelve Apostles : ANDREW
28 Old phone features : DIALS
30 “___ #1!” : WE’RE
31 Certain rough patches : BRIARS
33 Opposite of masc. : FEM
35 Part of Indochina : LAOS
36 Jargon : LINGO
37 Palindromic term of address : MA’AM
39 Zenith : TOP
40 Bit of baby talk : GOO GOO
41 Locale of the 2018, 2020 and 2022 Olympics : ASIA
42 “You win” : I LOSE
43 Irk : NETTLE
45 Listed : LEANED
48 Camper driver : RV’ER
50 Joan ___, player of Pat Nixon in 1995’s “Nixon” : ALLEN
51 Sleeper hits, perhaps : B-SIDES
53 A pair : TWO
55 See 42-Down : … SOME SPACE
57 Hall-of-Fame hitter Rod : CAREW
59 Tablet one might take before going to bed? : IPAD
60 Fearsome part of a Jabberwock : CLAW
61 Sets straight : TRUES
62 Crucial : KEY
63 A dreadful state, with “the” : … PITS
64 Leo or Libra : SIGN

Down

1 Sounds that can startle : BOOMS or BOOS
2 Company division : ARM
3 Fruit part that’s thrown away : STEM
4 The Kaaba in Mecca, e.g. : SHRINE
5 “Ciao!” : LATER!
6 Quantum mechanics thought experiment in which contradictory states exist simultaneously : SCHRODINGER’S CAT
7 Bar orders : ALES
8 Popcorn container : TUB
9 Item in a beach bag : RADIO
10 Ivy seen along the Schuylkill River : UPENN
11 “Darn it!” : NERTS!
12 Pronoun that can ask a question : WHO or WHOM
14 With 16-Across, travel internationally : CROSS …
17 Iridescent stones : OPALS
20 Recent recruits, so to speak : NEW BLOOD
23 Like the boys in “Lord of the Flies” : MAROONED
24 Hole puncher : AWL
25 “Swell!” : NEAT! or NEATO!
26 Sag : DROOP or DROP
27 Hi or lo follower : -RES
29 “Aladdin” parrot : IAGO
32 Amazonas and others : RIOS
33 Go to extremes, foodwise : FAST or FEAST
34 Buildup during vacation : EMAIL or MAIL
37 Welcome site? : MAT
38 Fannie ___ : MAE
40 Hollows : GLENS
42 With 55-Across, breakup line : I NEED …
44 Puts up : ERECTS
45 Surgery to improve how you look? : LASIK
46 Go off, but not without a hitch? : ELOPE
47 Big name in cosmetics : ALMAY
49 YouTube data : VIEWS
51 Java neighbor : BALI
52 Madras wrap : SARI
53 Many a middle schooler : TEEN or TWEEN
54 Possible reactions to shocks : WOWS or OWS
56 Angel dust : PCP
58 Oval thing in the Oval Office : RUG

11 thoughts on “0227-20 NY Times Crossword 27 Feb 20, Thursday”

  1. 24:41. I just got one solution and then looked for the others after I was done. I saw the different rebus options that could work, but I whiffed on the MEOW portion. Impressive construction.

    Schrodinger actually developed his thought experiment as a way of disproving another theory of quantum physics. He didn’t really think the cat was both alive and dead at the same time.

    Definitely Thursday-worthy today.

    Best –

  2. 10:18, no errors, but, like Bill, I got one solution and assumed I was done. It never occurred to me that there was more to it until I came here and was enlightened. At this point, all I can say is, “What a marvelous construction!” This puzzle will be enshrined in my own personal Crossword Hall of Fame!

  3. Akron Beacon Journal has this puzzle yesterday solve, and had tomorrow’s puzzle to solve which is Aimee Lucido.

  4. 31:12 paper and pencil time with no errors…I got the rebus solutions but not the double answers or the MEOW…this one was above my average joe mentality

  5. I still don’t understand the MEOW aspect. Where does the P figure in? Just ignore the extra non-MEOW letter?

  6. Thank you for responding! At your suggestion, I reread Bill’s explanation and this time “moveable letter” jumped out at me. In 26 down rather than look at OP, I simply looked at the “moveable O.” All the other theme answers have some combination of M, E, O, and W, in a single square, so the moveable aspect wasn’t obvious to me. Much obliged!

  7. 13:58, no errors. Saw from the note that the puzzle has 16 solutions. As with others, it never occurred to me that the rebus square would move. SCHRODINGER’S CAT seems to have appeared in a lot of boxes lately. Reminds me of an old cartoon book titled ‘101 Uses for a Dead Cat’.

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