0409-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Apr 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Morse Code

Themed clues each include either “.” or “-”, and these are interpreted as MORSE CODE symbols for “E” and “T” respectively:

  • 58A Method of communication needed to understand 17-, 25-, 36- and 49-Across : MORSE CODE
  • 17A -able : PUT ON HOLD (Table)
  • 25A Big nos. : SCHNOZZOLA (Big nose)
  • 36A Op-ed : MADE A CHOICE (Opted)
  • 49A Mil. post, say : ROAD MARKER (Mile post, say)

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 11m 40s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Cry from a card holder : UNO!

In my youth I remember being taught a great card game by a German acquaintance of mine, a game called Mau Mau. Years later I discovered that UNO is basically the same game, but played with a purpose-printed deck instead of the regular deck of playing cards that’s used for Mau Mau. I hear that Mau Mau is derived from the game called Crazy Eights.

9 Yoga pose : ASANA

“Asana” is a Sanskrit word that translates literally as “sitting down”. The asanas are the poses that a practitioner of yoga assumes. The most famous is the lotus position, the cross-legged pose called “padmasana”.

15 Putin ally in the Mideast : ASSAD

Dr. Bashar al-Assad is the current President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the son of the former President Hafez al-Assad, whom he replaced in 2001. President Assad is a medical doctor, speaks fluent English and conversational French. Assad was studying ophthalmology in London when he met his wife, who is an Englishwoman by birth.

16 “Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus),” for one : REMIX

“Lil Nas X” is the stage name of rapper Montero Lamar Hill. He was born and raised just outside of Atlanta. His first hit was “Old Town Road”, which is classified as country rap.

17 -able : PUT ON HOLD (Table)

These “tabling” and “shelving” idioms drive me crazy, because they are often misused. If a topic is shelved, it is set aside. If a topic is tabled, it is brought “off the shelf” and put “on the table” for discussion. I know that language evolves, but I think that it should at least make sense …

20 Singer Turner’s memoir : I, TINA

“I, Tina” is a 1986 autobiography by Tina Turner. The book was so successful it was adapted into a movie called “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” The film version was released in 1993 and starring Angela Bassett as Tina Turner.

21 Alley sight : PIN

Bowling has been around for an awfully long time. The oldest known reference to the game is in Egypt, where pins and balls were found in an ancient tomb that is over 5,000 years old. The first form of the game to come to America was nine-pin bowling, which had been very popular in Europe for centuries. In 1841 in Connecticut, nine-pin bowling was banned due to its association with gambling. Supposedly, an additional pin was added to get around the ban, and ten-pin bowling was born.

23 Actress/singer Kravitz : ZOE

Zoë Kravitz is an actress and singer. Zoë has a couple of famous parents:, namely musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet.

24 Frost formed from fog : RIME

Rime is the beautiful coating of ice that forms on surfaces like roofs, trees and grass, when cold water freezes instantly under the right conditions.

25 Big nos. : SCHNOZZOLA (Big nose)

“Schnoz(z)” is a slang term for a nose, particularly a large one.

29 Connecticut collegian : ELI

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was founded in 1701, making it the third-oldest university in the US. Originally called the Collegiate School, it was renamed to Yale University in honor of retired merchant Elihu Yale, who made generous contributions to the institution. Yale University’s nickname is “Old Eli”, in a nod to the benefactor.

30 Group HQ’d in Ramallah : PLO

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964. The PLO’s early stated goal was the liberation of Palestine, with Palestine defined as the geographic entity that existed under the terms of the British Mandate granted by the League of Nations back in 1923. The PLO was granted observer status (i.e. no voting rights) at the United Nations in 1974.

Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the West Bank located just a few miles from Jerusalem. It serves as the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority. The name “Ramallah” comes from the Arabic “ram” meaning “height” and “Allah” meaning “God”.

32 Late 1970s : DISCO ERA

Discotheques first appeared during WWII in Occupied France. American-style music (like jazz and jitterbug dances) was banned by the Nazis, so French natives met in underground clubs that they called discotheques where records were often played on just a single turntable. After the war, these clubs came out into the open. One famous Paris discotheque was called “Whiskey a Gogo”. In that Paris disco, non-stop music was played using two turntables next to a dance-floor, and this concept spread around the world.

35 Show that Betty White hosted at age 88, informally : SNL

The youngest person to host “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) was Drew Barrymore, at age 7 in 1982. The oldest host was Betty White, at 88 in 2010.

40 Trick to increase one’s efficiency, in modern lingo : LIFE HACK

A life hack is a technique that makes a routine task easier or more efficient. The term was coined in 2004 by journalist Danny O’Brien when describing less-than-elegant shortcuts used by IT professionals.

47 Sailor : TAR

A jack tar, or just “tar”, was a seaman in the days of the British Empire. The term probably arose due to a sailor’s various uses of tar back then, including waterproofing his clothes and using tar in his hair to slick down his ponytail.

51 Soul singer Gray : MACY

Macy Gray is an R&B singer noted for her raspy voice, and a singing style that resembles that of Billie Holliday.

54 NBC drama that won 15 Emmys : LA LAW

“L.A. Law” ran on NBC from 1986 to 1994, and was one of the network’s most successful drama series. It took over from the equally successful “Hill Street Blues” in the Thursday night 10 p.m. slot until, after a six-year run, it was itself replaced by yet another respected drama, “E.R.” The opening credits showed that famous California licence plate. The plate was on a Jaguar XJ for most of the series, but moved onto a Bentley towards the end of the run. For each series the registration sticker was updated, so no laws were being broken.

55 Tree that’s one of Athena’s symbols : OLIVE

The Greek goddess Athena (sometimes “Athene”) is often associated with wisdom, among other attributes. In many representations. Athena is depicted with an owl sitting on her head. It is this linkage of the owl with the goddess of wisdom that led to today’s perception of the owl as being “wise”. Athena’s Roman counterpart was Minerva.

58 Method of communication needed to understand 17-, 25-, 36- and 49-Across : MORSE CODE

Samuel Morse came up with the forerunner to modern Morse code for use on the electric telegraph, of which he was the co-inventor. Morse code uses a series of dots and dashes to represent letters and numbers. The most common letters are assigned the simplest code elements e.g. E is represented by one dot, and T is represented by one dash. When words are spelled aloud in Morse code, a dot is pronounced as “dit”, and a dash is pronounced as “dah”.

62 Hybrid fruit : PLUOT

Hybrids of plums and apricots are known as plumcots and apriplums. The later generation hybrid known as a pluot is ¼ apricot and ¾ plum, in terms of genetics. An aprium is ¼ plum and ¾ apricot.

66 Is written in old Rome? : EST

“Esse” is the Latin for “to be”. “Sum” means “I am”, “est” means “he, she is”, and “erat” means “he, she was”.

Down

1 Made some calls : UMPIRED

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.

2 Sea creatures that move by jet propulsion : NAUTILI

The marine creature called a nautilus (plural “nautili”) is referred to as a “living fossil”, as it looks just like the spiral-shelled creatures that are commonly found in fossils. The spiral shape is a great example of the Fibonacci series defining a natural phenomenon, as the spiral is a Fibonacci spiral, described by the famous series of numbers. The nautilus moves using jet propulsion, by ingesting water at one end and then squirting it out at the other.

4 Singer ___ Del Rey : LANA

“Lana Del Rey” is the stage name of singer/songwriter Elizabeth Grant. Del Rey calls herself a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra”. Nice …

5 Grateful? : ASH

After a fire, there might be a grate full of ash.

6 Tour letters : USO

The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941 at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt “to handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces”. A USO tour is undertaken by a troupe of entertainers, many of whom are big-name celebrities. A USO tour usually includes troop locations in combat zones.

11 Second-largest private employer in the U.S., after Walmart : AMAZON

Amazon.com is the largest online retailer in the world. It is also the largest Internet company in the world by revenue. The company was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, in his garage in Bellevue, Washington. I’m a big fan of Amazon’s approach to customer service …

18 Prime factor : ONE

A prime number is a number greater than 1 that can only be divided evenly by 1 and itself. There are still some unanswered questions involving prime numbers, perhaps most notably Goldbach’s Conjecture. This conjecture dates back to the 1740s and is assumed to be true, but has never been proven. It states that every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers.

26 ___ Crawley, countess on “Downton Abbey” : CORA

In the incredibly successful period drama “Downton Abbey”, the patriarch of the family living at Downton is Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham or Lord Grantham. The character is played by Hugh Bonneville. Lord Grantham married American Cora Levinson (played by Elizabeth McGovern). Lord and Lady Grantham had three daughters, and no sons. The lack of a male heir implied that the Grantham estate would pass to a male cousin, and out of the immediate family. The Grantham daughters are Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) and Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay). Lady Sybil had the audacity to marry the family chauffeur, who was an Irish nationalist. The shame of it all …

27 More off-the-wall : ZANIER

Something described as zany is clownish and bizarre. “Zany” can also be a noun, a term used for a clown or buffoon. The original noun was “Zanni”, a Venetian dialect variant of Gianni, short for Giovanni (John). Zanni was a character who appeared in comedy plays of the day, and was someone who aped the principal actors.

28 Nada : ZILCH

We use the term “zilch” to mean “nothing”. Our current usage evolved in the sixties, before which the term was used to describe “meaningless speech”. There was a comic character called Mr. Zilch in the 1930s in “Ballyhoo” magazine. Mr. Zilch’s name probably came from the American college slang “Joe Zilch” that was used in the early 1900s for “an insignificant person”.

30 Talking point : PODIUM

“Podium” (plural “podia”) is the Latin word for “raised platform”.

34 Part of the knee, for short : ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major ligaments that support the knee.

37 Shere who wrote “Sexual Honesty: By Women for Women” : HITE

Shere Hite is a German sex educator, although she was born in the US. She married German concert pianist Friedrich Höricke in 1985 and renounced her US citizenship in favor of German nationality in the mid-nineties. Hite’s work focuses on sexual experience and what meaning it holds for an individual.

38 Eschew dinner company : EAT ALONE

“To eschew”, meaning “to avoid, shun” comes from the Old French word “eschiver” that means the same thing.

41 Large, noisy insects : CICADAS

Cicadas are insects that are found all over the world. Although they resemble locusts, cicadas are an unrelated family. The name “cicada” is Latin and translated as “tree cricket”. However, the name is imitative of the clicking sound the insect makes using parts of its exoskeleton known as “tymbals”.

42 Route 1 terminus : KEY WEST

\Key West in the Florida Keys is the southernmost city in the contiguous US, and is the southern terminus of US Route 1. The southernmost point in the continental US is Whitehead Spit, which is located within the bounds of Naval Air Station Key West.

43 “The Wind in the Willows” character : MR TOAD

Mr. Toad is one of the main characters in the children’s novel “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. A. A. Milne (of “Winnie-the-Pooh” fame) wrote several plays based on “The Wind in the Willows”, the first of which is “Toad of Toad Hall”.

“The Wind in the Willows” is a classic children’s novel first published in 1908. Featured in the story are characters such as Mole, Ratty, Mr. Toad and Mr. Badger. The story’s author was Kenneth Grahame, a man who held the exalted position of Secretary of the Bank of England.

45 Daughter of Muhammad : FATIMA

Fatimah was the youngest daughter of the prophet Muhammad and his first wife Khadija.

51 Big ___ : MAC

The iconic Big Mac sandwich was introduced nationally by McDonald’s in 1967. It was the creation of a Pittsburgh franchisee who offered it on the menu as a response to the very similar “Big Boy” sandwich offered by the competing Big Boy restaurant chain.

57 H.S. exam org. : ETS

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) was founded in 1947, and produces standardized tests for students from kindergarten through college. Perhaps most famously, ETS operates the SAT testing process.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Cry from a card holder : UNO!
4 ___ Kelly, Democratic governor of Kansas starting in 2019 : LAURA
9 Yoga pose : ASANA
14 World view? : MAP
15 Putin ally in the Mideast : ASSAD
16 “Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus),” for one : REMIX
17 -able : PUT ON HOLD (Table)
19 Nickname for an instructor : TEACH
20 Singer Turner’s memoir : I, TINA
21 Alley sight : PIN
23 Actress/singer Kravitz : ZOE
24 Frost formed from fog : RIME
25 Big nos. : SCHNOZZOLA (Big nose)
29 Connecticut collegian : ELI
30 Group HQ’d in Ramallah : PLO
31 Added some color to : STAINED
32 Late 1970s : DISCO ERA
35 Show that Betty White hosted at age 88, informally : SNL
36 Op-ed : MADE A CHOICE (Opted)
39 Tear : RIP
40 Trick to increase one’s efficiency, in modern lingo : LIFE HACK
43 “That one’s on me” : MY FAULT
47 Sailor : TAR
48 Bond or bind : TIE
49 Mil. post, say : ROAD MARKER (Mile post, say)
51 Soul singer Gray : MACY
52 Bit of reproach : TUT
53 Updo hairstyle : BUN
54 NBC drama that won 15 Emmys : LA LAW
55 Tree that’s one of Athena’s symbols : OLIVE
58 Method of communication needed to understand 17-, 25-, 36- and 49-Across : MORSE CODE
61 Target : AIM AT
62 Hybrid fruit : PLUOT
63 ___ in Nancy : N AS
64 Figures in academia : DEANS
65 Unlikely Christmas gifts in tropical areas : SLEDS
66 Is written in old Rome? : EST

Down

1 Made some calls : UMPIRED
2 Sea creatures that move by jet propulsion : NAUTILI
3 “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” outlook : OPTIMISM
4 Singer ___ Del Rey : LANA
5 Grateful? : ASH
6 Tour letters : USO
7 “Invisible Man” author Ellison : RALPH
8 Berries, for breakfast cereal, e.g. : ADD-INS
9 Intriguing discovery in a cave : ART
10 Date : SEE
11 Second-largest private employer in the U.S., after Walmart : AMAZON
12 Cartoonist Hollander : NICOLE
13 Log splitter : AX HEAD
18 Prime factor : ONE
22 “Up to this point, no” : NOT SO FAR
25 Where to get a polysomnogram : SLEEP LAB
26 ___ Crawley, countess on “Downton Abbey” : CORA
27 More off-the-wall : ZANIER
28 Nada : ZILCH
30 Talking point : PODIUM
33 It might be shot on a winding seaside road : CAR AD
34 Part of the knee, for short : ACL
37 Shere who wrote “Sexual Honesty: By Women for Women” : HITE
38 Eschew dinner company : EAT ALONE
41 Large, noisy insects : CICADAS
42 Route 1 terminus : KEY WEST
43 “The Wind in the Willows” character : MR TOAD
44 “That’s not true!” : YOU LIE!
45 Daughter of Muhammad : FATIMA
46 One-ups : TRUMPS
50 Small hill : KNOLL
51 Big ___ : MAC
54 Gives permission to : LETS
56 Camper, e.g. : VAN
57 H.S. exam org. : ETS
59 Regret : RUE
60 Cover some ground : SOD

12 thoughts on “0409-20 NY Times Crossword 9 Apr 20, Thursday”

  1. 12:06, no errors. Cool idea. Finally understood the theme when I got to the revealer (but it wouldn’t have helped me a lot to get it earlier, since I’ve never needed/bothered to learn Morse code).

  2. 21:13 with no errors. Never got the theme, but still completed it in a reasonable time for me. @DuncanR, SW corner was the last to fall for me.

  3. 24:25. Fun one. I got the theme but ignored it because I don’t remember Morse code even though I learned it once ages ago. I think only Navy pilots still use it, but I’m not positive of that. When I looked at the write up, I remembered and it all made sense. Too late to help, however.

    Thanks for the tidbit on “shelves” vs “tables”. One more thing to get aggravated about.

    I was completely ignorant of NAUTILI. Very interesting, but I’ve witnessed similar phenomena at Mexican restaurants….

    Best –

  4. 27 min. Remember, there was a? After grateful. Plus, the Spellingshould’ve tipped you off that It was referring to a grate.

  5. 54:07 no errors but I was totally in the dark with the theme words as well as some others…crosses and lucky guesses are the theme of the day for dumb old me.
    Stay safe

  6. 26:19, no errors. So many unknown names, and several leaps of faith: MR. TOAD, NOT SO FAR. Also 21A going from CAT > CAN > PIN.

    Had to wiki ‘nautilus propulsion’, couldn’t see how a creature in a shell with only one opening could ingest water at one end and eject it out the other. Learn something new every day.

  7. Got everything “correctly” entered, but the theme, revealer and related clues eluded me. And didn’t really care, even after reading Bill’s revealing comment.

  8. No errors but a lot of hard work to get there. I did not fully understand the theme until I was all finished. I did not like this puzzle very much. Too much time and effort and too little pay off at the end.

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