0309-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Mar 20, Monday

Constructed by: John Lampkin
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme: It’s Getting Heavier

Themed answers each start with a unit of weight. Those weights get heavier as we progress down the grid:

  • 18A What you should take dubious advice with : GRAIN OF SALT
  • 29A What a complete fool lacks : OUNCE OF SENSE
  • 46A Shylock’s harsh demand, in “The Merchant of Venice” : POUND OF FLESH
  • 58A What “it” may hit you like : TON OF BRICKS

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 5m 59s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

4 Fabled loser to a tortoise : HARE

“The Tortoise and the Hare” is perhaps the most famous fable attributed to Aesop. The cocky hare takes a nap during a race against the tortoise, and the tortoise sneaks past the finish line for the win while his speedier friend is sleeping.

15 German auto make : OPEL

Adam Opel founded his company in 1863, first making sewing machines in a cowshed. Commercial success brought new premises and a new product line in 1886, namely penny-farthing bicycles. Adam Opel died in 1895, leaving his two sons with a company that made more penny-farthings and sewing machines than any other company in the world. In 1899 the two sons partnered with a locksmith and started to make cars, but not very successfully. Two years later, the locksmith was dropped in favor of a licensing arrangement with a French car company. By 1914, Opel was the largest manufacturer of automobiles in Germany. My Dad had an Opel in the seventies, a station wagon (we’d say “estate car” in Ireland) called an Opel Kadett.

22 School support grp. : PTA

Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

32 G.M. car no longer sold new : OLDS

Oldsmobile was an automobile brand founded by Ransom E. Olds (REO) in 1897. The brand was finally phased out by General Motors in 2004.

33 Tennis umpire’s call : LET!

Back in the 15th century, “an umpire” was referred to as “a noumpere”, which was misheard and hence causing the dropping of the initial letter N. The term “noumpere” came from Old French “nonper” meaning “not even, odd number”. The idea was that the original umpire was a third person called on to arbitrate between two, providing that “odd number” needed to decide the dispute.

34 Offered for breeding, as a derby winner : AT STUD

The word “stud”, meaning “male horse kept for breeding”, is derived from the Old English word “stod”, which described a whole herd of horses. The term “stud” can be used figuratively for a “ladies’ man”.

38 Letter between oh and cue : PEE

… O, P, Q …

40 College application fig. : GPA

Grade point average (GPA)

42 Passover celebrations : SEDERS

The Jewish holiday of Passover (also “Pesach”) commemorates the Israelites being freed from slavery in Egypt, as recounted in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. In that narrative, God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians, the tenth being the death of their firstborn sons. God instructed the Israelites to mark their doorposts so that the plague would pass over the firstborn Israelites. This “passing over” gives the holiday its name.

44 Dove’s sound : COO

Taxonomically, doves and pigeons are the only members of the order Columbidae. The terms “dove” and “pigeon” are often used interchangeably. Scientifically speaking, dove species tend to be smaller than pigeon species. Colloquially though, many refer to doves as the white or nearly white species in the family.

46 Shylock’s harsh demand, in “The Merchant of Venice” : POUND OF FLESH

Famously, at the climax of William Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”, Antonio goes on trial because he cannot repay a loan to Shylock of 3,000 ducats. Faced with non-payment, Shylock demands his legal right to “a pound of flesh”.

49 Leaked, as an old faucet : DRIPPED

The common “faucet” in an American house is almost always referred to as a “tap” on the other side of the pond.

51 Government disaster org. : FEMA

Federal emergency management has been structured for over 200 years, but what we know today as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created in 1979 in an Executive Order issued by President Jimmy Carter.

52 Greek war god : ARES

The Greek god Ares is often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, but originally he was regarded as the god of bloodlust and slaughter. Ares united with Aphrodite to create several gods, including Phobos (Fear), Deimos (Terror) and Eros (Desire). Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera, and the Roman equivalent to Ares was Mars.

55 Colorado skiing mecca : ASPEN

Aspen, Colorado used to be known as Ute City, with the name change taking place in 1880. Like many communities in the area, Aspen was a mining town, and in 1891 and 1892 it was at the center of the highest production of silver in the US. Nowadays, it’s all about skiing and movie stars.

63 Concert gear handler : ROADIE

A “roadie” is someone who loads, unloads and sets up equipment for musicians on tour, on the “road”.

64 Brand of basketballs : VOIT

Voit is a sporting goods company that was founded by William J. Voit in 1922. Voit invented the first all-rubber inflatable ball, in the late twenties.

65 Classic symphonic rock group, for short : ELO

The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) is a symphonic rock group from the north of England.

68 Documentarian Burns : KEN

Ken Burns directs and produces epic documentary films that usually make inventive use of archive footage. Recent works are the sensational “The War” (about the US in WWII) and the magnificent “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”, as well as 2014’s “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History”. Burns’ 2017’s offering was “The Vietnam War” that he co-directed with Lynn Novick.

Down

1 ChapStick, e.g. : BALM

ChapStick is a brand of lip balm produced by Pfizer, although the brand is so popular that the term “chapstick” tends to be used generically. ChapStick was invented way back in the 1880s by a Dr. Charles Browne Fleet in Lynchburg, Virginia.

3 How robbers can get caught : RED-HANDED

To be caught red-handed is to be caught in the act. The expression originated in Scotland and dates back at least to the 1400s. The red in question is blood, as in being caught with blood on one’s hands after perhaps committing a murder or an act of poaching.

4 Immobilize with rope, in a way : HOG-TIE

The hog-tie was first used on pigs (hence the name), and involves the tying together of all four limbs in order to render the animal immobile. On a pig, or any other four legged animal, the limbs are obviously tied in front. To hogtie a human, the hands are usually tied behind the back and joined to a rope binding the ankles.

5 Month after Mar. : APR

The exact etymology of “April”, the name of the fourth month of our year, seems to be uncertain. The ancient Romans called it “mensis Aprilis”, which roughly translated as “opening month”. The suggestion is that April is the month in which fruits, flowers and animals “open” their life cycles.

7 Snobbish sort : ELITIST

Back in the 1780s, a snob was a shoemaker or a shoemaker’s apprentice. By the end of the 18th century the word “snob” was being used by students at Cambridge University in England to refer to all local merchants and people of the town. The term evolved to mean one who copies those who are his or her social superior (and not in a good way). From there it wasn’t a big leap for “snob” to include anyone who emphasized their superior social standing and not just those who aspired to rank. Nowadays a snob is anyone who looks down on those considered to be of inferior standing.

11 Maker of the game Centipede : ATARI

Centipede is an arcade game from Atari (it is my favorite!). The game was designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey, with Bailey being one of the few female game designers back then (it was released in 1980). Perhaps due to her influence, Centipede was the first arcade game to garner a significant female following.

13 Toward sunrise: Sp. : ESTE

In Spanish, we look to the “este” (east) to see “el sol naciente” (the rising sun).

19 ___ the Great of children’s literature : NATE

The “Nate the Great” series of children’s novels was written (mainly) by Marjorie Sharmat. Nate is like a young Sherlock Holmes, with a dog for a sidekick called Sludge. Some of the books have been adapted for television.

21 Paths of falling stars : ARCS

A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body travelling through space. Once in the atmosphere, the meteoroid is referred to as a “meteor” or “shooting star”. Almost all meteoroids burn up, but if one is large enough to survive and reach the ground then we call it a meteorite. The word “meteor” comes from the Greek “meteōros” meaning “high in the air”.

28 “The Thin Man” dog : ASTA

Asta is the wonderful little dog in the superb “The Thin Man” series of films starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (as Nick and Nora Charles). In the original story by Dashiell Hammett, Asta was a female Schnauzer, but on screen Asta was played by a wire-haired fox terrier called “Skippy”. Skippy was also the dog in “Bringing Up Baby” with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, the one who kept stealing the dinosaur bone. Skippy retired in 1939, so Asta was played by other dogs in the remainder of “The Thin Man” films.

29 Klutz’s cry : OOPS!

A klutz is an awkward individual, with the term “klutz” coming from Yiddish. The Yiddish word for a clumsy person is “klots”.

30 1997 title role for Peter Fonda : ULEE

“Ulee’s Gold” is a highly respected film from 1997 in which Peter Fonda plays the title role of Ulee. Ulee’s “gold” is the honey that Ulysses “Ulee” Jackson produces. It is a favorite role for Peter Fonda and he has shared that playing Ulee brought to mind his father Henry Fonda, who himself kept a couple of hives. So if you see Peter Fonda in “Ulee’s Gold” you’re witnessing some characteristics that Peter saw in his father.

31 Funny Tina : FEY

Comedian and actress Tina Fey was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Fey is perhaps best known to television viewers as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” (1997-2006), and as the creator and star of the sitcom “30 Rock” (2006-2013).

36 Baking soda has lots of them : USES

“Baking soda” is a common name for the compound sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3).

39 Skull, for Hamlet when he says “Alas, poor Yorick!” : PROP

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, there is a scene when Prince Hamlet holds in his hand the skull of the deceased court jester Yorick. Hamlet starts into a famous monologue at this point:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is …

The opening line is often misquoted as “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well.”

45 Things that suffered a 20th-century blight : ELMS

Dutch elm disease is a fungus devastating to all species of elm trees that is transmitted by the elm bark beetle. The disease is thought to have originated in Asia and is now rampant in Europe and North America. Even though there is a hybrid of elm known as the Dutch elm, the disease isn’t named after the tree. Rather, the disease is called “Dutch” as it was identified in 1921 by a phytopathologist (plant pathologist) in the Netherlands.

49 Bit on a baby’s bib : DROOL

The word “bib” comes from the Latin “bibere” meaning “to drink”, as does our word “imbibe”. So, maybe a bib is less about spilling the food, and more about soaking up the booze …

50 Kidney-related : RENAL

Something described as renal is related to the kidneys. “Ren” is the Latin word for “kidney”.

52 Gillette razor option : ATRA

Fortunately for crossword constructors, the Atra was introduced by Gillette in 1977, as the first razor with a pivoting head. The Atra was sold as the Contour in some markets and its derivative products are still around today.

54 M.B.A. class subj. : ECON

The world’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree was offered by Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, in 1908.

56 Mystery writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE

I must have read all of the “Perry Mason” books when I was in college. I think they kept me sane when I was facing the pressure of exams. Author Erle Stanley Gardner was himself a lawyer, although he didn’t get into the profession the easy way. Gardner went to law school, but got himself suspended after a month. So, he became a self-taught attorney and opened his own law office in Merced, California. Understandably perhaps, Gardner gave up the law once his novels became successful.

57 One of the noble gases : NEON

Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They then warmed that liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

59 ___ Newton (cookie) : FIG

The Fig Newton cookie is based on what is actually a very old recipe that dates back to ancient Egypt. Whereas we grew up with “Fig Rolls” in Ireland, here in America the brand name “Fig Newton” was used, as the cookies were originally produced in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Tavern : BAR
4 Fabled loser to a tortoise : HARE
8 Go searching for food : FORAGE
14 Flabbergast : AWE
15 German auto make : OPEL
16 Ways to travel : ROUTES
17 Young fellow : LAD
18 What you should take dubious advice with : GRAIN OF SALT
20 “If I’m wrong, I’ll eat ___!” : MY HAT
22 School support grp. : PTA
23 Every family has one : TREE
24 Dry, as a desert : ARID
26 “That’s not true!” : IT’S A LIE!
29 What a complete fool lacks : OUNCE OF SENSE
32 G.M. car no longer sold new : OLDS
33 Tennis umpire’s call : LET!
34 Offered for breeding, as a derby winner : AT STUD
38 Letter between oh and cue : PEE
39 Toilet paper layer : PLY
40 College application fig. : GPA
41 Red ___ beet : AS A
42 Passover celebrations : SEDERS
44 Dove’s sound : COO
45 Squeaks (by) : EKES
46 Shylock’s harsh demand, in “The Merchant of Venice” : POUND OF FLESH
49 Leaked, as an old faucet : DRIPPED
51 Government disaster org. : FEMA
52 Greek war god : ARES
53 “Right you ___!” : ARE
55 Colorado skiing mecca : ASPEN
58 What “it” may hit you like : TON OF BRICKS
62 Before, in poetry : ERE
63 Concert gear handler : ROADIE
64 Brand of basketballs : VOIT
65 Classic symphonic rock group, for short : ELO
66 Claim to be true : ALLEGE
67 Odds’ counterpart : ENDS
68 Documentarian Burns : KEN

Down

1 ChapStick, e.g. : BALM
2 What a robber hopes to get? : AWAY
3 How robbers can get caught : RED-HANDED
4 Immobilize with rope, in a way : HOG-TIE
5 Month after Mar. : APR
6 Harvest : REAP
7 Snobbish sort : ELITIST
8 To and ___ : FRO
9 “Ouch!” : OOF!
10 Steals cattle : RUSTLES
11 Maker of the game Centipede : ATARI
12 Cosmetic goop : GELEE
13 Toward sunrise: Sp. : ESTE
19 ___ the Great of children’s literature : NATE
21 Paths of falling stars : ARCS
25 Gets all pretty : DOLLS UP
27 Quickly and loudly detach : SNAP OFF
28 “The Thin Man” dog : ASTA
29 Klutz’s cry : OOPS!
30 1997 title role for Peter Fonda : ULEE
31 Funny Tina : FEY
35 Glimpse furtively : TAKE A PEEK
36 Baking soda has lots of them : USES
37 Sprint : DASH
39 Skull, for Hamlet when he says “Alas, poor Yorick!” : PROP
40 When repeated, infant’s sound : GOO
43 Any one of nine “Star Wars” films : EPISODE
44 Obsolescent laptop component : CD DRIVE
45 Things that suffered a 20th-century blight : ELMS
47 Close by : NEAR
48 Eats royally : FEASTS
49 Bit on a baby’s bib : DROOL
50 Kidney-related : RENAL
52 Gillette razor option : ATRA
54 M.B.A. class subj. : ECON
56 Mystery writer ___ Stanley Gardner : ERLE
57 One of the noble gases : NEON
59 ___ Newton (cookie) : FIG
60 Q: Why is a flower like the letter A? A: Because a ___ goes after it : BEE
61 Joke (around) : KID

7 thoughts on “0309-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Mar 20, Monday”

  1. 6:32. Another GRAIN OF SALT reference. I almost got confused with yesterday’s puzzle and put GRAIN OF NACL. “Grain of salt” two days in a row? I doubt that’s ever happened before.

    Best –

  2. 8:44 “Audi” instead of “Opel”, “Inn” instead of “bar” to start…fixed them fast…. I’m supposed to be on a no salt diet….oops! 🙂

  3. 8:01, no errors. A few erasures: 13D OSTE before ESTE; 29A tried to fit COMMON SENSE before OUNCE OF SENSE; 58A tried to fit A TON OF BRICKS before TON OF BRICKS. Usually so focused on answering the clues, don’t see a theme unless it is necessary to complete the puzzle. Oblivious to the theme today.

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