0415-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 20, Wednesday

Constructed by: John-Clark Levin & Jeff Chen
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Start to Finish

Themed answers come in pairs. One element of the pair is made from the other by moving the starting letter to the finish of the word:

  • 2D Mythical beast that’s half lion and half eagle : GRIFFIN
  • 12D Making up variations on a theme : RIFFING
  • 21D Send off, as rays : EMANATE
  • 22D Sea cow : MANATEE
  • 39D Waits for a better offer, say : HOLDS OUT
  • 44D Antebellum Dixie : OLD SOUTH
  • 50D 1896 Olympics locale : ATHENS
  • 52D Hush-hush org. : THE NSA

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 8m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Newspaper held in low esteem : RAG

A low-quality newspaper is often referred to as a “rag”. There are lots of rags out there …

9 Cigar milder than a maduro : CLARO

A claro is a mild cigar made with light-colored tobacco. The name “claro” comes from the Spanish for “clear”.

14 Top of an espresso : FROTH

Espresso is made by forcing extremely hot water, under pressure, through finely ground coffee beans. The result is a thick and concentrated coffee drink, which contains quite a lot of solids and a lot of foam. An espresso machine was first patented in 1884 in Italy, although it was a machine to make the beverage in bulk. The first patent for a machine that made individual measures was applied for in 1901, also in Italy.

15 Novelist Umberto : ECO

Umberto Eco was an Italian writer who is probably best known for his novel “The Name of the Rose”, published in 1980. In 1986, “The Name of the Rose” was adapted into a movie with the same title starring Sean Connery.

18 France’s Académie ___ Beaux-Arts : DES

In French, one might view “beaux-arts” (fine arts) at a “musée” (museum).

The Institut de France is a learned society located in Paris that is comprised of five separate academies:

  • The French Academy, which is concerned with the French language
  • The Academy of Humanities
  • The Academy of Sciences
  • The Academy of Fine Arts, which includes Painting and Sculpture, Music, and Architecture
  • The Academy of Moral and Political Sciences

19 Gives deep massage therapy : ROLFS

Rolfing is a trademarked massage technique developed by Ida Pauline Rolf in the fifties.

20 Old Spice alternative : AFTA

Afta is an aftershave in the Mennen range of products that is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.

The Old Spice brand of grooming products was introduced in 1937, and was originally intended for a female clientele. The first male product hit the shelves in 1938, and today Old Spice is completely focused on products for men.

21 Violinist Zimbalist : EFREM

Efrem Zimbalist was a prominent concert violinist from Russia. Zimbalist was married to the famous American soprano Alma Gluck. The couple had a son called Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. who became a well-known actor (co-star on “77 Sunset Strip”). Zimbalist, Sr. was therefore also the grandfather of actress Stephanie Zimbalist (co-star on “Remington Steele”).

23 Only president who was also a chief justice : TAFT

William Howard Taft may have been the 27th President of the United States, but his lifelong ambition was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. President Taft was able to realize that dream in 1921, eight years after losing his bid for re-election as president. As Chief Justice, this former US President swore in two new presidents: Calvin Coolidge (in 1925) and Herbert Hoover (in 1929). William Howard Taft is also remembered as the most obese president. In the last year of his presidency, he weighed about 340 pounds (he was 5 feet 11 inches tall). Twelve months after leaving the White House, President Taft had dropped 80 pounds and substantially lowered his blood pressure.

24 Film school deg. : BFA

The degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) is primarily designed for students intent on pursuing a career in the visual or performing arts.

27 Padre’s hermana : TIA

In Spanish, the “hermana” (sister) of your “padre” (father) is your “tia” (aunt).

28 Tackle, for one : LINEMAN

That would be football.

41 Layered cake : TORTE

A torte is a type of cake made primarily with eggs, sugar and ground nuts (but no flour).

48 She said “Little boy, gonna make you a man,” in a Kinks song : LOLA

“Lola” is a fabulous song that was written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks back in 1970. Inspired by a real life incident, the lyrics tell of a young man who met a young “lady” in a club, danced with her, and then discovered “she” was actually a transvestite. The storyline isn’t very traditional, but the music is superb.

51 One of the Three Stooges : MOE

“Moe Howard” was the stage name of Moses Harry Horwitz. Howard was one of the Three Stooges. In 1925, he married Helen Schonberger, who was a cousin of Harry Houdini.

53 New Deal prez : FDR

The New Deal was the series of economic programs championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The New Deal was focused on three objectives, the “3 Rs”:

  1. Relief for the unemployed and poor
  2. Recovery of the economy to normal levels
  3. Reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression

54 Airport screening org. : TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the agency that employs the good folks who check passengers and baggage at airports.

56 Cheer repeated before “sis-boom-bah!” : RAH!

“Sis boom bah” is apparently a popular cheer in American high schools and colleges (I didn’t know that!). The term was also used by Johnny Carson when he was playing the character Carnac the Magnificent.

58 Astronomers’ std. : GST

Greenwich Sidereal Time (GST)

Astronomers use sidereal time to know where to locate given stars in the night sky. Sidereal time is a time scale that takes into account the Earth’s rotation relative to stars with a fixed location in the night sky.

59 “I Am … ___ Fierce,” #1 Beyoncé album : SASHA

Sasha Fierce is an alter-ego that Beyoncé Knowles has developed for her stage and recording work. Beyoncé describes Sasha as very sensual and aggressive. She released a studio album called “I Am… Sasha Fierce” in 2008.

61 ___ Park, Calif. : MENLO

Menlo Park is a town in the San Francisco Bay Area. The town was built around land previously owned by two Irish immigrants. The pair called their property “Menlo Park”, naming it for Menlo in County Galway, which is where the Irishmen came from.

68 Magic Johnson’s 10,141 : ASSISTS

Magic Johnson’s real name is Earvin Johnson. Johnson was born and grew up in Lansing, Michigan. Earvin earned the nickname “Magic” when playing basketball in high school, after one particularly great performance on the court.

69 Ten-gallon hat : STETSON

Stetson is a brand of hat manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. The so-called “cowboy hat” that Stetson pioneered was such a success that the company became the largest hat maker in the world, producing over 3.3 million hats per year.

Down

2 Mythical beast that’s half lion and half eagle : GRIFFIN

The legendary creature called a griffin has the body, tail and back legs of a lion, and the head, wings and front feet/talons of an eagle.

3 Edmond ___, “Cyrano de Bergerac” playwright : ROSTAND

Edmond Rostand wrote the famous play “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1897. There have been a few interesting film adaptations. Perhaps the most famous is 1950’s Hollywood “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring José Ferrer. 1987’s “Roxanne” is a modern-day resetting of the play starring Steve Martin, and 1990’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” (in French) starring Gérard Depardieu was nominated for several Oscars, winning for Best Costume Design.

4 James who sang “At Last” : ETTA

“Etta James” was the stage name of celebrated blues and soul singer Jamesetta Hawkins. James’ most famous recording was her 1960 hit “At Last”, which made it into the pop charts. James performed “At Last” at the age of 71 in 2009 on the reality show “Dancing with the Stars”, which was to be her final television appearance. She passed away in 2012.

6 Distinctively colored freshwater fish : REDFIN

The redfin shiner is a freshwater fish, and a type of minnow. It is primarily found in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin.

7 Bitter : ACERB

“Acerb” is a variant of “acerbic”, with both terms meaning “sour, bitter-tasting, acidic”.

9 Y course : CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has for decades involved the simultaneous compression of the chest to pump blood using the heart, and artificial respiration by blowing air into the lungs. Nowadays emergency services are placing more emphasis on heart compressions, and less on artificial respiration.

The YMCA (the Y) is a worldwide movement that has its roots in London, England. There, in 1844, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded with the intent of promoting Christian principles through the development of “a healthy spirit, mind and body”. The founder, George Williams, saw the need to create YMCA facilities for young men who were flocking to the cities as the Industrial Revolution flourished. He saw that these men were frequenting taverns and brothels, and wanted to offer a more wholesome alternative.

11 H.S. course often covering the “Aeneid” : AP LATIN

Aeneas was a Trojan hero of myth who traveled to Italy and became the ancestor of all Romans. Aeneas’s story is told in Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid”.

12 Making up variations on a theme : RIFFING

A riff is a short rhythmic phrase in music, especially one improvised on a guitar.

22 Sea cow : MANATEE

Manatees, also known as “sea cows”, are very large marine mammals that can grow to 12 feet in length. The manatee is believed to have evolved from four-legged land mammals and probably shares a common ancestor with the elephant.

25 One who might become a fiancée : AMIE

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

26 Record for later, in a way : TIVO

TiVo was introduced in 1999 and was the world’s first commercially successful digital video recorder (DVR).

29 Screenwriter Nora : EPHRON

Nora Ephron had many talents, including writing film scripts and novels. Many of the movies that she wrote, she also directed. These would include some of my favorite movies of all time like “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail” and most recently, the wonderful “Julie & Julia”. And, did you know that Nora Ephron’s second marriage was to journalist Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame? She wrote an autobiographical novel based on her life with Bernstein, which deals in particular with Bernstein’s affair with the daughter of British Prime Minister James Callaghan.

35 Stuffed grape leaves : DOLMA

Dolmas are stuffed vegetable dishes from the Middle East. Strictly speaking, dolmas are made by hollowing out some vegetable before adding a stuffing. The derivative dish called “sarma” is made by wrapping vine or cabbage leaves around a filling. In many cuisines, the name “sarma” has been dropped in favor of “dolma”.

37 Member of the weasel family : OTTER

Male and female otters are known as dogs and bitches, with the offspring called pups. Males and females are sometimes referred to as boars and sows. A collection of otters is a bevy, family, lodge or perhaps a romp. When in water, a collection of otters can be called a raft.

38 Pitch setter : CLEF

“Clef” is the French word for “key”. In music, a clef is used to indicate the pitch of the notes written on a stave. The bass clef is also known as the F-clef, the alto clef is the C-clef, and the treble clef is the G-clef.

44 Antebellum Dixie : OLD SOUTH

“Dixie” is a nickname sometimes used for the American South, and often specifically for the original 11 states that seceded from the Union just prior to the Civil War. It’s apparently not certain how the name “Dixie” came about. One theory is that it comes from the term “dixie” which was used for currency issued by banks in Louisiana. The 10-dollar bills had the word “dix” on the reverse side, the French for “ten”. From the banknote, the French speaking area around New Orleans came to be known as Dixieland, and from there “Dixie” came to apply to the South in general.

The Latin word “antebellum” means “before the war”, which is the sense that we use the term in English. Here in the US, we mostly use the term with reference to the American Civil War.

45 People are asked to sign it after an accident : CAST

Plaster made using gypsum is commonly referred to as plaster of Paris. The original plaster of Paris came from a large deposit of gypsum mined at Montmartre in Paris, hence the name.

52 Hush-hush org. : THE NSA

The National Security Agency (NSA) was set up in 1952 by President Truman, a replacement for the Armed Forces Security Agency that had existed in the Department of Defense since 1949. The NSA has always been clouded in secrecy and even the 1952 letter from President Truman that established the agency was kept under wraps from the public for over a generation. I really like the organization’s nickname … “No Such Agency”.

57 Many Pennsylvania Dutch speakers : AMISH

The Amish are members of a group of Christian churches, and a subgroup of the Mennonite churches. The Amish church originated in Switzerland and Alsace in 1693 when it was founded by Jakob Ammann. It was Ammann who gave the name to the Amish people. Many Amish people came to Pennsylvania in the 18th century.

The Pennsylvania Dutch are a cultural group in Pennsylvania who are descended from German-speaking immigrants who came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries. As such, the “Dutch” in the group’s name doesn’t refer to the Dutch people, but rather to the German language (“Deutsch” in German).

60 Typical “Key & Peele” segment : SKIT

The Comedy Central sketch show “Key & Peele” stars comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The duo also wrote an action comedy film called “Keanu” that was released in 2016. The title character is a cat belonging to the boss of a drug cartel. Haven’t seen it …

62 Dark time in France : NUIT

In French, “jour” (day) is the opposite of “nuit” (night).

63 E.R. workers : MDS

One might find a registered nurse (RN) and a medical doctor (MD) in an emergency room (ER).

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Match, as subject and verb : AGREE
6 Newspaper held in low esteem : RAG
9 Cigar milder than a maduro : CLARO
14 Top of an espresso : FROTH
15 Novelist Umberto : ECO
16 Swing by unannounced : POP IN
17 Things that may fly around saloons : FISTS
18 France’s Académie ___ Beaux-Arts : DES
19 Gives deep massage therapy : ROLFS
20 Old Spice alternative : AFTA
21 Violinist Zimbalist : EFREM
23 Only president who was also a chief justice : TAFT
24 Film school deg. : BFA
25 “Whew! What a tiring day!” : AM I BEAT!
27 Padre’s hermana : TIA
28 Tackle, for one : LINEMAN
30 Slicing, as through water : KNIFING
32 Part of a cello that supports the instrument on the floor : ENDPIN
33 Make right, perhaps in a not-so-right way : AVENGE
34 Complete … as suggested by four symmetrical pairs of Down answers in this puzzle : HEAD TO TOE
38 Burn black : CHAR
41 Layered cake : TORTE
42 Group that votes together : BLOC
46 A lowercase “f” on a blue background, for Facebook : LOGO
47 Like Delta Force forces : ELITE
48 She said “Little boy, gonna make you a man,” in a Kinks song : LOLA
49 Princess of Avalor, on a Disney show : ELENA
51 One of the Three Stooges : MOE
52 Cares for, as a garden : TENDS
53 New Deal prez : FDR
54 Airport screening org. : TSA
56 Cheer repeated before “sis-boom-bah!” : RAH!
58 Astronomers’ std. : GST
59 “I Am … ___ Fierce,” #1 Beyoncé album : SASHA
61 ___ Park, Calif. : MENLO
63 Plays (around) : MONKEYS
65 Curvy : SINUOUS
67 Started eating : DUG INTO
68 Magic Johnson’s 10,141 : ASSISTS
69 Ten-gallon hat : STETSON
70 Cry of disbelief : WHAT THE!

Down

1 Good-natured : AFFABLE
2 Mythical beast that’s half lion and half eagle : GRIFFIN
3 Edmond ___, “Cyrano de Bergerac” playwright : ROSTAND
4 James who sang “At Last” : ETTA
5 Canadian interjections : EHS
6 Distinctively colored freshwater fish : REDFIN
7 Bitter : ACERB
8 What “it” is supposed to do : GO SEEK
9 Y course : CPR
10 Rioter’s spoils : LOOT
11 H.S. course often covering the “Aeneid” : AP LATIN
12 Making up variations on a theme : RIFFING
13 Performing live, say : ON STAGE
21 Send off, as rays : EMANATE
22 Sea cow : MANATEE
25 One who might become a fiancée : AMIE
26 Record for later, in a way : TIVO
29 Screenwriter Nora : EPHRON
31 Flimsy, as an excuse : FEEBLE
35 Stuffed grape leaves : DOLMA
36 Half a sextet : TRIO
37 Member of the weasel family : OTTER
38 Pitch setter : CLEF
39 Waits for a better offer, say : HOLDS OUT
40 Game box info : AGE RANGE
43 Like friends not seen for years : LONG LOST
44 Antebellum Dixie : OLD SOUTH
45 People are asked to sign it after an accident : CAST
50 1896 Olympics locale : ATHENS
52 Hush-hush org. : THE NSA
55 Tell : SAY TO
57 Many Pennsylvania Dutch speakers : AMISH
60 Typical “Key & Peele” segment : SKIT
62 Dark time in France : NUIT
63 E.R. workers : MDS
64 Second part of the sign of the cross, symbolically : SON
65 Glimpsed : SAW
66 Indianapolis-to-Atlanta dir. : SSE

13 thoughts on “0415-20 NY Times Crossword 15 Apr 20, Wednesday”

  1. 10:30, no errors. Assignment for the class: Find ten more examples of the theme. Extra points will be awarded for longer examples.

    1. Time to turn in A Nonny’s homework assignment. These are the longest anagrams I found (didn’t create) that fit the theme. True, they are a bit clunky, but regular solvers could certainly come up with excellent clues for them.

      SNOOZE ALARMS
      ALAS NO MORE ZS

      ELEVEN PLUS TWO
      TWELVE PLUS ONE

      1. @Cullin …

        Well, I’ll certainly give you credit for finding a couple of great anagrams. I particularly like the first one!

        However, the puzzle theme involves anagrams of a special kind: To change GRIFFIN to RIFFING, all you have to do is move the G from the beginning to the end. And you just move the E of EMANATE from the beginning to the end to get MANATEE. And so on for the others.

        So … no extra credit, I’m afraid, but you get an A for effort!

        1. Oh! I completely missed that feature of the anagrams! Now I’m even more impressed with the clever constructors. Back to the drawing board on the homework assignment…. 😂

  2. 23:07 after losing a few minutes trying to find one incorrect letter that I had as present tense instead of past tense. No errors, just a slow Wednesday.

  3. 22:36. This just felt more difficult that a usual Wednesday. A+ for the theme.

    I always appreciate Jeff Chen’s cluing. I know I like someone’s cluing when I’m cursing them while solving…

    I love espresso, but they give you that tiny little mug. When I go to the Dominican Republic they know to fill a large coffee mug full of espresso. They charge me for a quadruple espresso, and I’m fine with it, not to mention wired afterwards. It’s a great hangover cure. Starbucks Espresso Roast is a good alternative when an espresso machine is not available.

    ROLFing? Hmm. Sounds more like a bodily function than a massage technique..

    Best –

  4. 2 errors.. Y course got me..
    Theme was fun.

    Got out of order on these crosswords Bill.. Usually I get it about 2 weeks old. This one is now about a month.. Oh well.

  5. 34:05 no errors but as usual the theme totally escaped me…then again it is another Jeff Chen and company puzzle.
    Stay safe

  6. Just started but 14A answer is incorrect. Top of an espresso is not froth it is crema. Froth might top a latte but not an espresso. Ruined the puzzling for me.

    1. From the dictionary: “ crema: a brownish foam that forms on the top of freshly made espresso”.

      Also from the dictionary: “ foam: a mass of small bubbles in liquid, caused by agitation, fermentation, etc.”

      Also from the dictionary: “ froth: a mass of small bubbles in liquid, caused by agitation, fermentation, etc.; foam”.

      Nit-picking aside, I think it’s safe to say that the answer is pretty defensible.

  7. 18:19, no errors. The theme of today’s puzzle was spelled out in 34A “HEAD TO TOE’. The letter at the top (head) of the shaded left side entries was moved to the bottom (toe) in the shaded right side entries. One of the rare occasions when I see the theme while solving the puzzle, rather than after the fact. After entering ATHENS, wondered how they were going make THENSA work. Enjoyed the theme.

  8. No errors. Nice Wednesday workout.

    I did not quite see all of the theme. I saw the pairs of words only as anagrams. I had a suspicion that there was more to it but decided to leave well enough alone. I completed the puzzle and that is all that counts. That is not to say that I did not appreciate the “HEAD TO TOE” construction. Very nice, innovative work by our two constructors.

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