0401-20 NY Times Crossword 1 Apr 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: John Ficarra & Patrick Merrell
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): What? On a Wednesday?

In a very playful way, we’re being made fools of on April Fools’ Day. The three themed clues are so difficult to solve that we can just write down exclamations of disbelief as answers. However, some research shows that the real answers to those obscure clues are Pápa, Mama and Baby!

  • 17A Historic town in Veszprém county, Hungary, noted for its baroque architecture : ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! (actually, it’s the town of “Pápa”)
  • 40A Left tributary of the Vitim River in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia : WHO THE HELL KNOWS! (actually it’s the “Mama” River)
  • 63A Village between Kruszyna and Jacków in Silesian Voivodeship, Poland (pop. 305) : I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE! (actually, it’s the village of “Baby”)
  • … a complete list of answers

    Bill’s time: 8m 27s

    Bill’s errors: 0

    Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

    Across

    1 French Open court material : CLAY

    There are four different surfaces used for playing tennis competitively:

    • Clay courts (used for the French Open)
    • Hard courts (used for the US Open and the Australian Open)
    • Grass courts (used for Wimbledon)
    • Carpet courts

    5 One thing … or a twosome : ITEM

    An unmarried couple known to be involved with each other might appear in the gossip columns. This appearance as “an item” in the papers, led to the use of “item” to refer to such a couple, but only since the very early seventies.

    9 Alfred Nobel or Anders Celsius : SWEDE

    Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist and businessman. Nobel is famous for the invention of dynamite during his lifetime, as well as for instituting the Nobel Prizes by providing the necessary funds in his will.

    Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer. The temperature scale that Celsius created was the reverse of that used today, with “zero” representing the boiling point of water and “100” representing water’s freezing point. This scale was “upended” (in 1744) just after Celsius died, by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. The resulting temperature scale then became known as the centigrade scale for over 200 years, until in 1948 it was decided to adopt the “degree Celsius”. So, anyone still using “degrees centigrade” is actually way behind the times …

    20 Short line at the top of a column, in typesetting : WIDOW

    In the world of typesetting, a widow is a short line of type, perhaps one that ends a paragraph, but one that spills over onto the next page or column. It’s a no-no as a “widow” looks a little weird sitting there on “her” own.

    25 Spore-producing plant : FERN

    Ferns are unlike mosses in that they have xylem and phloem, making them vascular plants. They also have stems, leaves and roots, but they do not have seeds and flowers, and reproduce using spores. Spores differ from seeds in that they have very little stored food.

    27 Soldier clad in gray, for short : REB

    During the Civil War, the personification of the Southern states was “Johnny Reb”. The northern equivalent was “Billy Yank”.

    33 Start of Caesar’s boast : VENI …

    The oft-quoted statement “Veni, vidi, vici” (“I came, I saw, I conquered”) is believed by many to have been written by Julius Caesar. The words date back to 47 BCE and refer to the short war between Rome and Pharnaces II of Pontus.

    38 A Stooge : MOE

    If you’ve seen a few of the films starring “The Three Stooges” you might have noticed that the line-up changed over the years. The original trio was made up of Moe and Shemp Howard (two brothers) and Larry Fine (a good friend of the Howards). This line up was usually known as “Moe, Larry and Shemp”. Then Curly Howard replaced his brother when Shemp quit the act, creating the most famous trio, “Moe, Larry And Curly”. Shemp returned when Curly had a debilitating stroke in 1946. Shemp stayed with the troupe until he himself died in 1955. Shemp was replaced by Joe Besser, and then “Curly-Joe” DeRita. When Larry Fine suffered a stroke in 1970, it effectively marked the end of the act.

    43 Only ape to orbit the earth (1961) : ENOS

    Enos was a chimpanzee that was launched into Earth orbit in 1961 by NASA on a Mercury Atlas 4 rocket. Enos’s flight was a rehearsal for the first orbital flight made by an American, astronaut John Glenn. Enos returned from his mission safely, but died the following year from dysentery.

    44 ___ sequitur : NON

    We use the Latin term “non sequitur” to describe an illogical statement, usually irrelevant to what has immediately preceded. The literal translation of “non sequitur” is “it does not follow”.

    45 Colombia’s capital : BOGOTA

    Bogotá is the capital city of Colombia. Noted for having many libraries and universities, Bogotá is sometimes referred to as “The Athens of South America”.

    47 From Florence or Pisa : TUSCAN

    Tuscany is a beautiful region in central Italy, the capital of which is the city of Florence. Tuscany is considered to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, which was centered around Florence. It was home to great artistic icons such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo and Puccini.

    50 One-size-fits-all garment : SARI

    The item of clothing called a “sari” (also “saree”) is a strip of cloth, as one might imagine, unusual perhaps in that it 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.

    54 Piñata smasher : BAT

    Piñatas originated in Mexico, probably among the Aztecs or Mayans. Today piñatas are usually made from cardboard that is brightly decorated with papier-mâché. Traditionally a piñata was made out of a clay pot, adorned with feathers and ribbons and filled with small treasures. During religious ceremonies the clay pots would be suspended and broken open so that the contents would spill out onto the ground at the feet of a god as an offering.

    66 TV newsman Willie : GEIST

    Willie Geist is a co-anchor on MSNBC’s news and talk show “Morning Joe”. He also solo-anchors NBC’s Sunday edition of “Today”, known since 2016 as “Sunday Today with Willie Geist”.

    67 Janis’s partner in the comics : ARLO

    The comic strip “Arlo and Janis” is written by Jimmy Johnson. Introduced in 1985, Arlo and Janis are a baby booming couple with an easy approach to life, and who are very much in love.

    70 One of the Lennons : SEAN

    Sean Lennon is the only child of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and godson of Elton John. Sean is a musician and composer, and has a band called the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.

    71 Numbered composition : OPUS

    The Latin for “work” is “opus”, with the plural being “opera”. We sometimes also use the plural “opuses” in English.

    Down

    2 Greiner of “Shark Tank” : LORI

    On the TV show “Shark Tank”, Lori Greiner is one of the “sharks”, one of the investors who choose whether or not to back entrepreneurs making a pitch of their businesses. Greiner has been described as a “serial inventor” and made millions selling those inventions on QVC. Her success on the shopping channel earned her the nickname “the Queen of QVC”.

    3 Like Gruyère or Grandpa : AGED

    Gruyère is a hard cheese that is named for the medieval Swiss town of Gruyères. I had the pleasure of visiting Gruyères many years ago, and have very fond memories of stuffing myself with the most delicious fondue made from the local cheese mixed with wine …

    5 R.N.’s workplace : ICU

    A registered nurse (RN) might work in an intensive care unit (ICU).

    6 What the Lord sometimes does, in a classical expression : TAKETH

    According to the Book of Job:

    Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

    7 Land o’ leprechauns : ERIN

    A leprechaun is a mischievous fairy of Irish folklore. Traditionally, leprechauns spend their days making shoes and hide all their money in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Our word “leprechaun” comes from the Irish name for such a sprite, i.e. “leipreachán”.

    8 Sober-minded org. : MADD

    Candace Lightner lost her 13-year-old child to a drink-driver in 1980. Soon after, Lightner formed the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

    11 Scotty’s domain on the U.S.S. Enterprise : ENGINE ROOM

    In the “Star Trek” series on television and in the movies, the colorful character named Scotty was played by Canadian actor James Doohan. Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery at the start of WWII, and participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy. After surviving the landing, that same day Doohan was shot by one of his own men in a tragic mishap. Doohan was hit six times, with a bullet to his chest stopped by a silver cigarette case he was carrying. One of Doohan’s fingers was shot off in the incident. He managed to conceal that injury during his acting career.

    13 Where fruit-picking originated? : EDEN

    In the Christian tradition, the “fall of man” took place in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation of eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This went against the bidding of God, and was at the urging of the serpent. As a result, Adam and Eve were banished from Eden to prevent them from becoming immortal by eating from the tree of life. The first humans had transitioned from a state of innocent obedience to a state of guilty disobedience.

    19 Gym clothes holder : DUFFEL BAG

    A duffel bag is a cylindrical tote bag with a drawstring top, often used by military personnel. The bag is made of this cloth, a cloth that originally came from the town of Duffel in Belgium, hence the name.

    26 Enjoying the great outdoors … indoors : RV’ING

    Recreational vehicle (RV)

    28 Prefix with -centric : ETHNO-

    To be ethnocentric is to believe in the superiority of one’s own race, or to have an obsessive concern with race.

    29 Laundry problem for Dracula? : BLOODSTAIN

    “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 …

    31 Chorus of approval : AMENS

    The word “amen” translates as “so be it”. “Amen” is said to be of Hebrew origin, but it is also likely to be influenced by Aramaic and Arabic.

    32 “Hahaha” : LOL

    Laugh out loud (LOL)

    37 Where icebergs are found : AT SEA

    An iceberg is a large piece of freshwater ice that is floating freely after having broken away from a glacier or ice shelf. Our use of “iceberg” comes from the Dutch word for the same phenomenon “ijsberg”, which translates literally as “ice mountain”.

    41 The Rockets, on scoreboards : HOU

    The Houston Rockets NBA team was founded as a league expansion team in 1967 in San Diego. The Rockets relocated to Houston in 1971. Surprisingly (to me), the Rockets were not named for Houston’s connection to NASA. The “Rockets” moniker was partly due to San Diego’s more tenuous NASA connection. General Dynamics’ San Diego operation developed and built the first Atlas rockets, including those used in Project Mercury.

    42 Classic camera brand : KONICA

    Konica was a Japanese manufacturer of photographic film and film cameras, as well as related photographic and photocopying equipment. The company was founded in 1873, and was in the photography business before Kodak. Konica merged with Minolta in 2003 to form Konica Minolta.

    48 Cooking oil option : CANOLA

    Canola is a type of rapeseed, and Canola oil is made from the seeds. The particular cultivar used in oil production was developed in Canada, and the name Canola in fact comes from “CANadian Oil, Low Acid”.

    51 Butler of fame : RHETT

    Famously, Clark Gable played Rhett Butler in the 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s novel “Gone with the Wind”. However, Butler wasn’t the first choice for the role. It was offered to Gary Cooper, but he turned it down. Apparently, Cooper said, “‘Gone With The Wind’ is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history. I’m glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his nose, not Gary Cooper”.

    53 Kind of chip : NACHO

    The dish known as “nachos” was supposedly created by the maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. The name of the maître d’ was Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya.

    54 Nickname for major-league baseball’s Angel Stadium, with “the” : BIG A

    Angel Stadium of Anaheim is sometimes called the Big A. The Big A opened for business in 1966, making it the fourth oldest stadium in the major leagues, after Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium.

    57 Some fund-raising grps. : PTAS

    Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)

    60 Sonar signal : BLIP

    The British developed the first underwater detection system that used sound waves. Research was driven by defence demands during WWI, leading to production of working units in 1922. This new sound detection system was described as using “supersonics”, but for the purpose of secrecy the term was dropped in favor of an acronym. The work was done under the auspices of the Royal Navy’s Anti-Submarine Division, so ASD was combined with the “IC” from “superson-ic-s” to create the name ASDIC. The navy even went as far as renaming the quartz material at the heart of the technology “ASDivite”. By the time WWII came along, the Americans were producing their own systems and coined the term SONAR, playing off the related application, RADAR. And so, the name ASDIC was deep-sixed …

    61 Doozy : LULU

    We call a remarkable thing or a person a lulu. The term “lulu” was coined in honor of Lulu Hurst, the Georgia Wonder, who was a stage magician active in the 1880s.

    A doozy is something extraordinary or bizarre. The exact origins of the word “doozy” aren’t clear, but it might be a derivative of the name Eleanora Duse, an Italian actress popular early in the 20th century. Some say that the term comes from the Duesenberg brand of automobile, which was indeed referred to as a “duesy”. However, the use of “doozy” in print occurs before the Duesenberg hit the market.

    64 Letters on a brandy bottle : VSO

    Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine. The term “brandy” ultimately comes from the Dutch “gebrande wijn” meaning “burnt wine”. The length of this aging of the spirit defines the various grades of brandy:

    • VS: Very Special … at least 2 years storage
    • VSOP: Very Special (or Superior) Old Pale … at least 4 years storage
    • XO: Extra Old … at least 6 years
    • VSO: Very Superior Old … 12-17 years

    65 Bridge limit unit : TON

    Here in the US, a ton is equivalent to 2,000 pounds. Over in the UK, a ton is 2,240 pounds. The UK unit is sometimes referred to as an Imperial ton, long ton or gross ton. Folks over there refer to the US ton then as a short ton. To further complicate matters, there is also a metric ton or tonne, which is equivalent to 2,204 pounds. Personally, I wish we’d just stick to kilograms …

    Complete List of Clues/Answers

    Across

    1 French Open court material : CLAY
    5 One thing … or a twosome : ITEM
    9 Alfred Nobel or Anders Celsius : SWEDE
    14 McDonald’s arches, e.g. : LOGO
    15 Model/actress Delevingne : CARA
    16 Ebbed : WANED
    17 Historic town in Veszprém county, Hungary, noted for its baroque architecture : ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! (actually, it’s the town of “Pápa”)
    20 Short line at the top of a column, in typesetting : WIDOW
    21 Turn out : END UP
    22 + or – atom : ION
    23 Thigh-baring dress feature : SLIT
    25 Spore-producing plant : FERN
    27 Soldier clad in gray, for short : REB
    30 Bisected : IN HALF
    33 Start of Caesar’s boast : VENI …
    36 “It’s about time!” : AT LAST!
    38 A Stooge : MOE
    39 Fits of anger : IRES
    40 Left tributary of the Vitim River in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia : WHO THE HELL KNOWS! (actually it’s “Mama”)
    43 Only ape to orbit the earth (1961) : ENOS
    44 ___ sequitur : NON
    45 Colombia’s capital : BOGOTA
    46 Went by taxi or train : RODE
    47 From Florence or Pisa : TUSCAN
    49 Like a 1960s-’70s TV “squad” : MOD
    50 One-size-fits-all garment : SARI
    52 Opposed to, rurally : AGIN
    54 Piñata smasher : BAT
    56 Board a moving vehicle : HOP ON
    59 Part of a suspension bridge : CABLE
    63 Village between Kruszyna and Jacków in Silesian Voivodeship, Poland (pop. 305) : I HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE! (actually, it’s the village of “Baby”)
    66 TV newsman Willie : GEIST
    67 Janis’s partner in the comics : ARLO
    68 Knoll : HILL
    69 Retort to “Are too!” : AM NOT!
    70 One of the Lennons : SEAN
    71 Numbered composition : OPUS

    Down

    1 End of a hammer : CLAW
    2 Greiner of “Shark Tank” : LORI
    3 Like Gruyère or Grandpa : AGED
    4 Idiots : YO-YOS
    5 R.N.’s workplace : ICU
    6 What the Lord sometimes does, in a classical expression : TAKETH
    7 Land o’ leprechauns : ERIN
    8 Sober-minded org. : MADD
    9 Criticism that might be made behind someone’s back : SWIPE
    10 Ashen : WAN
    11 Scotty’s domain on the U.S.S. Enterprise : ENGINE ROOM
    12 Brief how-to : DEMO
    13 Where fruit-picking originated? : EDEN
    18 Wise-looking : OWLISH
    19 Gym clothes holder : DUFFEL BAG
    24 Aim : INTENTION
    26 Enjoying the great outdoors … indoors : RV’ING
    27 Less cooked : RAWER
    28 Prefix with -centric : ETHNO-
    29 Laundry problem for Dracula? : BLOODSTAIN
    31 Chorus of approval : AMENS
    32 “Hahaha” : LOL
    34 Unfamiliar with : NEW TO
    35 Feels down : IS SAD
    37 Where icebergs are found : AT SEA
    41 The Rockets, on scoreboards : HOU
    42 Classic camera brand : KONICA
    48 Cooking oil option : CANOLA
    51 Butler of fame : RHETT
    53 Kind of chip : NACHO
    54 Nickname for major-league baseball’s Angel Stadium, with “the” : BIG A
    55 “Uh … excuse me” : AHEM
    57 Some fund-raising grps. : PTAS
    58 People eater : OGRE
    60 Sonar signal : BLIP
    61 Doozy : LULU
    62 Serpentine swimmers : EELS
    64 Letters on a brandy bottle : VSO
    65 Bridge limit unit : TON

    17 thoughts on “0401-20 NY Times Crossword 1 Apr 20, Wednesday”

    1. 9:34, no errors. I loved this puzzle when I did it last night and, now that I’ve read Bill’s revealer of the “actual” answers, I love it even more! In these dark times, I needed that!

    2. 10:22. Definitely some much needed comic relief. Apparently the setters were both part of MAD magazine at one time or another. Ficarra was the editor and Merrill used to be an illustrator.

      Interesting that the real answers were Papa, Mama and Baby. I was trying to think of any significance of those, but I can’t.

      Amazing backstory for James Doohan.

      Bill – I think the revealer “Clap Back” is a leftover from yesterday.

      Best –

      1. Thanks, Jeff. I made a few clerical errors writing up this post. These virtual happy hours are beginning to take a toll!

    3. 20:08 no errors…having worked this puzzle on 5 06 20…I didn’t pick up on April fools day until I read Bills blog…I was wondering what rhyme or reason those answers were…now I know.
      Stay safe

    4. I knew it was the April Fool’s puzzle from the get-go. My paper
      prints the number (“No. 401” in this case) above the puzzle.
      So it’s the April 1st puzzle even though I get it May 6th.

    5. Knowing that this puzzle originally came out on April Fool’s Day might possibly have helped a little. I had no errors nevertheless. I have often thought of trying to keep some kind of a running log that would tell me what the original day of publication was. But, for some reason, I have just never gone to the additional trouble of doing so. It does indeed leave us syndicated solvers at a small disadvantage of not recognizing long-past holidays but it is not all that big of a deal.

      Otherwise, a fun and witty puzzle.

      WIDOW was new to me. I’ll be looking for some “widows” in my reading from now on.

      1. To expound on @Bill’s comment: a word (or small group of words) at the end of a paragraph, which is at the bottom of a page is called a WIDOW. If a page break occurs above that word (or group of words), such that it is moved to the top of following page, it is referred to as an orphan. Many word processing programs have an option to highlight widows and orphans; or to automatically eliminate them by adjusting the character spacing.

        1. This is from Microsoft Word, and it apparently differs from my explanation above: “If a paragraph has a page break in the middle so that only the last line appears at the top of the following page, this lonely line is called a “widow.” If, on the other hand, a paragraph has a page break in the middle so that only the first line appears at the bottom of a page while the rest of the paragraph appears on the next page, this lonely line is called an “orphan.”

    6. 10:02, no errors. Answers to today’s clues seemed to come easily. I assumed the ‘theme’ answers somehow contained the actual answers to the clues.

    7. That was… weird.

      Had no idea it was an April Fool’s puzzle. For a short while I thought the theme answers might be a kind of rebus: “RU…”, but that didn’t pan out pretty quickly.

      Then I just stopped worrying and figured I’d find the answer here after I finished.

    8. Good one, Dave E.! A fun puzzle…and 13-down is now my favorite clue for EDEN. Word processors now take care of widows and orphans for us, but back in the day—when one never began a new paragraph on the last line of a page (orphan), nor ended a paragraph with a single line at the top of the next page (widow)—finagling to avoid lone lines was frustrating!

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