0318-20 NY Times Crossword 18 Mar 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: Ricky Cruz
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Ful(l) in the Middle

Stay home, stay safe …

Themed answers are common two-word phrases, with -FUL added to the end of the first word:

  • 17A Zombies with a sense of humor? : PLAYFUL DEAD (from “play dead”)
  • 29A Grizzlies that don’t fall for traps? : CAREFUL BEARS (from “Care Bears”)
  • 45A Exam in an interior design class? : TASTEFUL TEST (from “taste test”)
  • 60A Terrible attempts at peeling corn? : AWFUL SHUCKS (from “aw, shucks!)

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 8m 00s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Annual tennis or golf championship : US OPEN

The US Open is one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, having started out as the US National Championship in 1881. Today, the US Open is the last major tournament in the Grand Slam annual series, following the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon.

Golf’s US Open Championship is held on the third Sunday of every June, which also happens to be Father’s Day. The first US Open was held in 1894. 36 holes were played over one day on a 9-hole course in Newport, Rhode Island.

11 ___ dispenser : PEZ

PEZ is an Austrian brand of candy sold in a mechanical dispenser. Famously, PEZ dispensers have molded “heads”, and have become very collectible over the years. The list of heads includes historical figures like Betsy Ross and Paul Revere, characters from “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”, and even British royalty like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (“William and Kate”). The name “PEZ” comes from the first, middle and last letters of “Pfefferminz”, the German word for “peppermint”.

15 Detective Wolfe : NERO

Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective and the hero of many stories published by author Rex Stout. There are 33 Nero Wolfe novels for us to read, and 39 short stories. There are also movie adaptations of two of the novels: “Meet Nero Wolfe” (1936) which features a young Rita Hayworth, and “The League of Frightened Men” (1937). One of Wolfe’s endearing traits is his love of good food and beer, so he is a pretty rotund character.

16 Friend for Philippe : AMI

A male friend in France is “un ami”, and a female friend is “une amie”.

17 Zombies with a sense of humor? : PLAYFUL DEAD (from “play dead”)

A zombie is a corpse that has been brought back to life by some mystical means. Our modern use of the term largely stems from the undead creatures featured in the 1968 horror movie called “Night of the Living Dead”. Now that film I haven’t seen, and probably never will …

20 What to do after saying grace : EAT

A grace is a short prayer recited before or after a meal.

29 Grizzlies that don’t fall for traps? : CAREFUL BEARS (from “Care Bears”)

The Care Bears franchise includes a line of toys as well as TV shows and movies. The original Care Bears were characters created for greeting cards marketed by American Greetings starting in 1981.

33 Writer who went through hell? : DANTE

Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” is an epic poem dating back to the 14th century. The first part of that epic is “Inferno”, which is the Italian word for “Hell”. In the poem, Dante is led on a journey by the poet Virgil, starting at the gates of Hell on which are written the famous words “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

38 Greek god who fought with the mortal Hercules : 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.

43 Surrealist Maar : DORA

Dora Maar was a famous French photographer. She became Pablo Picasso’s lover and muse, when she was 29 and Picasso 54. The pair had a complicated relationship that lasted nine years. Picasso painted a portrait of her called “Dora Maar with Cat” that was sold at auction in 2006 for almost $100 million, which at that time was the second-highest price ever paid for a painting.

54 Automaton of folklore : GOLEM

“Golem” is Yiddish slang for “dimwit”. In Jewish folklore, a golem is an anthropomorphic being made out of inanimate matter, and is somewhat like an unintelligent robot.

58 “Snakes ___ Plane” (2006 film) : ON A

“Snakes on a Plane” is one of those movies that delivers just what is advertised on the wrapper, namely “snakes on a plane”. Samuel L. Jackson stars in a film about hundreds of snakes released on a plane in a plot to kill a witness who is planning to testify at a trial.

59 Abbr. before an alias : AKA

Also known as (aka)

60 Terrible attempts at peeling corn? : AWFUL SHUCKS (from “aw, shucks!)

To shuck is to remove the husk from (say an ear of corn) or to remove the shell from (say an oyster).

64 Org. that collects 1099s : IRS

There is a series of IRS 1099 forms used to report various types of income, other than wages, salaries and tips that are reported on Form W-2. Examples are Form 1099-INT used to report interest income, 1099-DIV used to report dividend income, and 1099-MISC used to report miscellaneous income.

65 Wonder Woman, for Gal Gadot : ROLE

“Wonder Woman” is a 2017 film starring Gal Gadot as the superhero title character. It is listed by many as one of the best superhero movies of all time. Gadot had played Wonder Woman before, in the 2016 film “Batman v Superman”.

Gal Gadot is an actress and former Miss Israel. She plays Gisele Yashar in the “Fast & Furious” film franchise, and then began portraying Wonder Woman in superhero movies.

66 Mexican dish prepared in a cornhusk : TAMALE

A tamale is a traditional dish from Central America composed of a starchy dough that is steamed or boiled in a wrapper made from a corn husk or banana leaf. The dough is called masa, and can include many different ingredients including meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables.

Down

1 Called balls and strikes : UMPED

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.

3 Deliver a stemwinder : ORATE

A stem-winder is a type of watch, one that was very desirable in days gone by. The term became associated with “excellence” over the years, and especially with a rousing speech.

7 Lead-in to China : INDO-

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.

8 Introductory scene in some rom-coms : MEET CUTE

“Meet cute” is a term used since the 1930s or 1940s for a scene in a film or TV show in which a future couple have an amusing first encounter.

9 Subj. of the federal tax form 5498 : IRA

Individual retirement account (IRA)

13 10001, 10002, etc., informally : ZIPS

ZIP codes were introduced in 1963. The acronym “ZIP” stands for “Zone Improvement Plan”, a name indicating that mail travels more efficiently when the codes are included in the postal address.

18 Ore source : LODE

A lode is a metal ore deposit that’s found between two layers of rock or in a fissure. The mother lode is the principal deposit in a mine, usually of gold or silver. “Mother lode” is probably a translation of “veta madre”, an expression used in mining in Mexico.

25 Fifth book of the New Testament : ACTS

The Acts of the Apostles is the fifth book of the Christian New Testament. It is believed that the author of the Gospel of Luke was the same person who wrote “Acts”.

26 Daisy ___ (character who loved Li’l Abner) : MAE

Daisy Mae Scragg is a vampish woman who chases Li’l Abner, trying to goad him into marriage. This went on for 15 years in the cartoon strip until creator Al Capp succumbed to public pressure and married the couple at the end of March 1952. The marriage was such a big event that it made the cover of “Life” magazine.

28 Astronaut Shepard, first American in space : ALAN

Alan Shepard was the first American in space. Shepard’s flight was originally scheduled for October 1960 but a series of delays pushed it out till May 5, 1961. Yuri Gagarin made his celebrated flight on April 12, 1961, just one one month earlier, winning that part of the Space Race for the Soviets. A decade later, Shepard went into space again at the age of 47, as commander of Apollo 14. He was the fifth man to walk on the moon, and indeed the oldest. Shepard was also the only one of the Mercury Seven team to make it to the moon. Famously, he drove two golf balls while on the lunar surface.

30 Like almost 0% of tarantula bites : FATAL

Tarantulas are spider-like arachnids that are usually quite hairy. The original tarantula was a type of wolf spider found in Europe, found near the southern Italian town called Taranto, hence the name.

31 Like blue moons : RARE

As there is a full moon once every four weeks, approximately monthly, there are usually twelve full moons in any given year. However, every 2-3 years, depending on the phase of the moon at the beginning of the calendar year, there may be a thirteenth full moon. The “extra” full moon is called a “blue moon”, although no one seems to really know why the term “blue” is used, as far as I can tell. Which of the thirteen full moons that is designated as the blue moon varies depending on tradition. My favorite definition is from the Farmer’s Almanac. It states that as each of the seasons normally has three full moons (one for each calendar month), then the season with four full moons is designated as “special”, then the third (and not the fourth) full moon in that “special” season is the blue moon. Complicated, huh?

34 ___ 51 : AREA

The famed Area 51 is a remote base in the USAF Nevada Test and Training Range. There’s no question that Area 51 is an unusual base in that frontline operational units are not deployed there. It seems that it is used for developing and testing new and classified weapons facilities for the US Military and other US agencies like the CIA. The government did not even acknowledge that Area 51 existed until 1995, and this official position fueled a theory that the base is home to UFOs that landed on Earth.

40 Orchard pest : FRUIT FLY

The common fruit fly is used in biological research because it is easy to care for, it breeds very quickly, and lays lots of eggs. The average lifespan of a fruit fly in nature is about a month.

43 Nation whose flag is a white cross on a red background : DENMARK

The flag of Denmark comprises a white Scandinavian cross on a red background. The Danish flag appears in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest continuously-used national flag, having been adopted in 1625. The flag is known in Denmark as the “Dannebrog”, meaning “Danish cloth”.

47 Shade akin to turquoise : TEAL

The beautiful color teal takes its name from the duck called a teal, which has dark greenish-blue (teal) markings on its head and wings.

53 It’ll give you a shock : TASER

Victor Appleton wrote a novel for young adults called “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle”. The company that developed the TASER electroshock weapon partly named its product as a homage to the novel. The acronym “TASER” stands for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”.

55 Vegetable that’s frequently fried : OKRA

The plant known as okra is mainly grown for its edible green pods. The pods are said to resemble “ladies’ fingers”, which is an alternative name for the plant. Okra is known as “ngombo” in Bantu, a name that might give us the word “gumbo”, the name for the name of the southern Louisiana stew that includes okra as a key ingredient.

63 Thurman of “Pulp Fiction” : UMA

I’m not a big fan of director Quentin Tarantino. His movies are too violent for me, and the size of his ego just turns me right off. Having said that, I think “Pulp Fiction” is a remarkable film. If you can look past the violence, it’s really well written. And what a legacy it has. John Travolta’s career was on the rocks and he did the film for practically no money, and it turned out to be a re-launch for him. Uma Thurman became a top celebrity overnight from her role. Even Bruce Willis got some good out of it, putting an end to a string of poorly-received performances.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Annual tennis or golf championship : US OPEN
7 “Sign me up!” : I’M IN!
11 ___ dispenser : PEZ
14 Team spirit : MORALE
15 Detective Wolfe : NERO
16 Friend for Philippe : AMI
17 Zombies with a sense of humor? : PLAYFUL DEAD (from “play dead”)
19 Pinch : NIP
20 What to do after saying grace : EAT
21 Spree : TOOT
22 Removes, as from a club : OUSTS
24 Had high hopes : DREAMED
27 Gay rights or climate change : CAUSE
29 Grizzlies that don’t fall for traps? : CAREFUL BEARS (from “Care Bears”)
33 Writer who went through hell? : DANTE
36 Rat-___ : A-TAT
37 Cheer from the stands : RAH!
38 Greek god who fought with the mortal Hercules : ARES
39 Many a time : OFTEN
41 Prefix with space : AERO-
42 Small set : FEW
43 Surrealist Maar : DORA
44 Called off : ENDED
45 Exam in an interior design class? : TASTEFUL TEST (from “taste test”)
49 Singer Luis with the 13x platinum hit “Despacito” : FONSI
50 Write the book on, so to speak : EXCEL AT
54 Automaton of folklore : GOLEM
56 Like some spicy food : THAI
58 “Snakes ___ Plane” (2006 film) : ON A
59 Abbr. before an alias : AKA
60 Terrible attempts at peeling corn? : AWFUL SHUCKS (from “aw, shucks!)
64 Org. that collects 1099s : IRS
65 Wonder Woman, for Gal Gadot : ROLE
66 Mexican dish prepared in a cornhusk : TAMALE
67 “Hmm, I don’t think so” : NAH
68 Shift and Tab, for two : KEYS
69 Less fresh : STALER

Down

1 Called balls and strikes : UMPED
2 Word before system or panel : SOLAR …
3 Deliver a stemwinder : ORATE
4 Be punished (for) : PAY
5 Figure in Santa’s workshop : ELF
6 Neither feminine nor masculine : NEUTER
7 Lead-in to China : INDO
8 Introductory scene in some rom-coms : MEET CUTE
9 Subj. of the federal tax form 5498 : IRA
10 “For sure” : NO DOUBT
11 Like some salmon that’s not baked or broiled : PAN-SEARED
12 Give off : EMIT
13 10001, 10002, etc., informally : ZIPS
18 Ore source : LODE
23 Exercise : USE
25 Fifth book of the New Testament : ACTS
26 Daisy ___ (character who loved Li’l Abner) : MAE
28 Astronaut Shepard, first American in space : ALAN
30 Like almost 0% of tarantula bites : FATAL
31 Like blue moons : RARE
32 Having footwear : SHOD
33 Harebrained : DAFT
34 ___ 51 : AREA
35 “Hey, let me be the first to tell you …” : NEWSFLASH …
39 Reactions to gut punches : OOFS
40 Orchard pest : FRUIT FLY
41 Up the ___ : ANTE
43 Nation whose flag is a white cross on a red background : DENMARK
44 Neighbor of F1 and a tilde : ESC
46 Outer edge of a golf club : TOE
47 Shade akin to turquoise : TEAL
48 Is : EXISTS
51 One giving directions to a tourist, say : LOCAL
52 Where a pant leg and a sock meet : ANKLE
53 It’ll give you a shock : TASER
54 Benefit : GAIN
55 Vegetable that’s frequently fried : OKRA
57 Colors : HUES
61 Great distress : WOE
62 Lid, so to speak : HAT
63 Thurman of “Pulp Fiction” : UMA

10 thoughts on “0318-20 NY Times Crossword 18 Mar 20, Wednesday”

  1. 8:31, no errors. Another clever, inventive theme.

    @Jeff … Apropos of yesterday’s discussion: I thought you’d be amused by the fact that my “current streak” on the NYT crossword app is now at 563. I don’t know if that’s a thing to brag about or if it’s just further evidence that I no longer have anything really important to contribute to the world … 😜.

  2. 24:28. Another fast solve for 3/4 of the grid. Didn’t have a clue on “Fonsi”, “Golem” “Meet Cute” and evening less of a clue on “spree/toot” connection…I am sad and pathetic…. 🙂

    1. @Duncan … Whenever I say things like that, my significant other replies, “Don’t be so hard on yourself! That’s my job!”

  3. 10:45. Well the NYT app has recorded my time correctly today, but my times (my falsely fast times) from Mon and Tue have stood. I guess I’ll live with that.

    Didn’t see what ZIPS meant until I came here. Duh…

    Steve- Started with the LAT because that was what was in my local paper. A couple of years later I did the NYT some of the time, then I started doing both a few years later.

    Best –

  4. 20:05 no errors…8D was new to me.
    24 hours and I recovered from grass cutting that I used to take in stride…guess my body is trying to tell me something…stay safe

  5. A real easy puzzle for a Wednesday … at first. Then the SW slowed me down. After 33 minutes I walked away from it. Came back to it 5 minutes later and fairly quickly finished in the next 7 minutes. Not really a bad time for me, LOL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.