0505-20 NY Times Crossword 5 May 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Lee Taylor
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Riddle-De-Dee

Themed clues are classic riddles:

  • 17A Riddle-de-dee: What is it that the more you take, the more you leave behind? : FOOTSTEPS
  • 62A Riddle-de-dee: What asks no questions but must be answered? : TELEPHONE
  • 11D Riddle-de-dee: What’s light as a feather but can’t be held for long? : YOUR BREATH
  • 30D Riddle-de-dee: What’s clean when black and dirty when white? : CHALKBOARD

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 5m 10s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Strip bordering Israel and Egypt : GAZA

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the boundaries of the strip of land on the Mediterranean around Gaza were fixed in the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement. The boundaries were specifically defined but were not to be recognized as an international border. From 1948, the Gaza Strip was occupied and administered by Egypt, until 1967 when Israel took over occupation following the Six-Day War. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords which handed over administration to the Palestinian Authority, but with Israel retaining control of the Gaza Strip’s airspace, some land borders and its territorial waters. The intent was to further this agreement, but discussions between the parties broke down. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

15 “Now!,” in an order : ASAP!

As soon as possible (ASAP)

20 ___ position : FETAL

The word “fetus”, used for an unborn young animal, comes from Latin as one might expect. “Fetus” is the Latin word for the act of hatching or bringing forth a young animal or child. The mistaken spelling “foetus” is seen occasionally, but there’s no historical basis for adding that “o”.

23 Galena and sphalerite : ORES

Galena is the most commonly used mineral to produce lead. It is a form of lead sulfide. Galena is the state mineral of Missouri and of Wisconsin.

Sphalerite is a chief ore used as a source of zinc. It is also known as zinc blende, black-jack and ruby jack.

36 Prime minister between Cameron and Johnson : MAY

Theresa May won a leadership election to become UK prime minister in 2016, following the resignation of David Cameron immediately after the nation decided to withdraw from the EU (“Brexit”). As such, May became only the second female prime minister in the UK, after Margaret Thatcher.

David Cameron was Prime Minister of the UK from 2010 until 2016. Conservative Cameron came to power as the head of a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative Party emerged victorious in a 2015 general election, after which Cameron led a majority government. Cameron’s administration will surely be remembered in part for two major referenda. In one, Scotland voted by a narrow majority to remain in the UK. In the second, the UK voted to exit the European Union, a vote that led to Cameron’s resignation the next day.

Boris Johnson is a larger-than-life Conservative politician in the UK, and former Mayor of London. He was the very visible frontman in the campaign for the UK to exit the European Union, the so-called Brexit campaign. As a result of the UK voting to exit the EU, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, to be replaced by Theresa May. Theresa May then appointed Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. Almost inevitably, Boris Johnson then replaced May as Prime Minister. In more recent times, Johnson famously made light of the coronavirus pandemic and ignored calls for social distancing. He then fell ill with COVID-19, ended up in an intensive care unit, and ultimately revised his advice about social distancing.

37 Czar called “the Great” : PETER I

Peter the Great (aka “Peter I”) was perhaps the most successful of the Romanov tsars, and was famous for modernizing Russia and expanding the country’s sphere of influence, creating the Russian Empire. He ruled from 1682 until his death in 1725.

41 American Impressionist Mary : CASSATT

Mary Cassatt was an American painter from Pennsylvania who moved to France at the young age of 22 years, in 1866. By which time she was already studying to become a professional artist. Cassatt became friends with Edgar Degas, who invited her to exhibit with the group called “the Impressionists”, who were garnering a great deal of attention at the time. Cassatt’s reputation as a great artist is perhaps built on an extensive series of paintings of mothers with a child.

44 Thanksgiving day: Abbr. : THU

Thanksgiving Day was observed on different dates in different states for many years, until Abraham Lincoln fixed the date for the whole country in 1863. Lincoln’s presidential proclamation set that date as the last Thursday in November. In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the fourth Thursday in November, arguing that the earlier date would give the economy a much-needed boost.

46 Purveyor of drug paraphernalia : HEAD SHOP

Paraphernalia used in the consumption of cannabis and tobacco are sold in retail outlets known as head shops.

Our words “provide” and “purvey” have similar meanings, and both derive from the Latin verb “providere” meaning “to supply”.

52 Swabbie’s liquor allotment, once : GROG

Edward Vernon was a naval officer with the nickname “Old Grog”. In 1740, Vernon ordered that the daily ration of rum for his sailors should be watered down, in order to reduce discipline problems caused by drunkenness. The diluted rum was sweetened with sugar, and lemon or lime added to help preserve it on long voyages. This recipe, found to reduce scurvy among sailors (because of the citrus) spread throughout the Royal Navy, and “grog” was born. As an aside, George Washington’s older half-brother named the famous Washington Mount Vernon Plantation in honor of Edward Vernon. We use the derivative term “groggy” to mean “unsteady on the feet”, as if under the influence of “grog”.

“Swabbie” (also “swabby, swab, swabber”) is a slang term meaning “sailor” that we’ve been using since the late 1700s. A swab was originally a member of the crew assigned to the swabbing (mopping) of the ship’s decks.

56 Writing in a blue book : ESSAY

“Blue book exam” is a term used for a test given at many colleges in the US. Blue book exams usually involve the writing of essays. The first blue book exams were administered by Butler University in Indianapolis, and the “blue” was chosen because Butler’s school colors are blue and white. The color blue is still commonly used regardless of which school is giving the test, although other colors can be used.

60 ___ ark : NOAH’S

The term “ark”, when used with reference to Noah, is a translation of the Hebrew word “tebah”. The word “tebah” is also used in the Bible for the basket in which Moses was placed by his mother when she floated him down the Nile. It seems that the word “tebah” doesn’t mean “boat” and nor does it mean “basket”. Rather, a more appropriate translation is “life-preserver” or “life-saver”. So, Noah’s ark was Noah’s life-preserver during the flood.

65 Ink cartridge color : CYAN

Four-color printing uses four different color inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The black ink is also known as the “key”. The first letter of the colors (with black being ”key”) give the more common name for four-color printing, namely CMYK.

66 “You said it!” : AMEN!

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.

67 One of the Kennedy brothers, familiarly : TEDDY

Ted Kennedy was the youngest boy in a family that included older brothers Joseph Jr. (killed in action in WWII), John (assassinated) and Robert (assassinated). Ted went into the US Senate in 1962 in a special election held after his brother became US President. He remained in the Senate until he passed away in 2009, making Ted Kennedy the fourth-longest-serving Senator in history. The 2017 movie “Chappaquiddick” gives some insight, albeit somewhat speculative, about the darker side of Ted Kennedy’s life. It focuses on the events surrounding the infamous Chappaquiddick incident in which Kennedy drove off a bridge, resulting in the death of his 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne.

69 Trees used for archery bows : YEWS

Yew is the wood of choice for the longbow, a valued weapon in the history of England. The longbow is constructed with a core of yew heartwood (as the heartwood resists compression) that has a sheath of yew sapwood (as the sapwood resists stretching). The yew was in such demand for longbows that for centuries yew trees were in short supply in Britain and the wood had to be imported from all over Europe.

Down

1 Fishing hook : GAFF

A gaff is a dangerous-looking metal hook on the end of a pole that fishermen use to drag large fish into their boats.

2 Soothing ointment : ALOE

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that grows in relatively dry climates. The plant’s leaves are full of biologically-active compounds that have been studied extensively. Aloe vera has been used for centuries in herbal medicine, mainly for topical treatment of wounds.

3 ___ suit : ZOOT

A zoot suit has pants that are fairly loose fitting, except around the cuff at the bottom of the leg. The pants also have a high waist. The jacket of the suit has wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. Zoot suits were popular in the US in the thirties and forties, and were often associated with the African American, Latino American and Italian American ethnic groups. Over in the UK, the zoot suit was worn by the “Teddy boys” of the fifties and sixties. “Zoot” is probably just a slang iteration of the word “suit”.

5 Siamese or Persian : CAT

The exact origins of the Siamese cat aren’t very clear, but it is believed to be from Southeast Asia. The Siamese takes its name from the sacred temple cats of Thailand (once called Siam).

The Persian is that long-haired cat with a squashed muzzle. The breed takes its name from its place of origin, namely Persia (Iran).

8 Printer brand : EPSON

Seiko Epson is a Japanese company, and one of the largest manufacturers of printers in the world. The company has its roots in the watch business, roots that go back to 1942. Seiko was chosen as the official timekeeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and was asked to supply a timer that produced a printed record. This request brought Seiko into the business of printer production. The company developed the world’s first mini-printer for the 1964 Games and called it EP-101 (with “EP” standing for Electronic Printer). In 1975 Seiko introduced the next generation of EP printers which was called EPSON, from “SON of EP”. Cute, huh?

9 “Six-pack” muscles : ABS

The abdominal muscles (abs) are more correctly referred to as the rectus abdominis muscles. They might be referred to as a “six-pack”, or even a “ten-pack”, in a person who has developed the muscles and who has low body fat. In my case, more like a keg …

12 Brontë heroine : EYRE

“Jane Eyre” is a celebrated novel written by Charlotte Brontë, under the pen name Currer Bell. The love story is perhaps represented by the oft-quoted opening lines of the last chapter, “Reader, I married him”. There is a wonderful 4-hour television adaptation made by the BBC that I highly recommend to fans of the novel …

13 Nightly bugle call : TAPS

“Taps” is played nightly by the US military to indicate “lights out”. It’s also known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby” as it is a variation of an older bugle called the “Scott Tattoo”, arranged during the Civil War by the Union Army’s Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield. The tune is called “Taps”, from the notion of drum taps, as it was originally played on a drum, and only later on a bugle. The whole tune comprises just 24 notes, with there only being four different notes within the 24, i.e. “low G”, C, E and “high G”. Minimalism at its best …

22 Where the Rays play : TAMPA BAY

The Tampa Bay Rays are a relatively young franchise, having been formed in 1998. The initial name of the franchise was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. While known as the Devil Rays, the team finished last in the league in almost every year. The name was changed to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and I am told the Rays started into a streak of winning seasons soon after.

28 Buckwheat porridge : KASHA

Kasha is a type of porridge made from roasted whole-grain buckwheat. The dish is most popular in the Russian and Jewish cultures.

Despite the name, “buckwheat” is not related to wheat, and nor is it a grass. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb. As the seeds are eaten, it is known as a “pseudocereal”. The name comes from “beech wheat”, a reference to the resemblance of buckwheat seeds to beech nuts from the “beech” tree, and the fact that buckwheat seeds are used like “wheat”.

29 St. Kitts and St. Vincent : ISLES

Saint Kitts is the more familiar name for Saint Christopher Island in the West Indies. Saint Kitts, along with the neighboring island of Nevis, is part of the country known as the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts has had a troubled history, with the Spanish, British and French all vying for control of the island. Most of the population today is descended from slaves brought onto Saint Kitts to farm tobacco and then sugar cane. Most of the slaves were from Africa, although Irish and Scottish slaves were also used.

“Saint Vincent and the Grenadines” is the full name of the Caribbean nation that’s usually referred to simply as “Saint Vincent”. The Grenadines are a chain of 32 islands, of which Saint Vincent is the largest.

31 Little chap : LAD

“Chap” is an informal term meaning “lad, fellow” that is used especially in England. The term derives from “chapman”, an obsolete word meaning “purchaser” or “trader”.

33 Maker of Weed B Gon : ORTHO

Ortho is a brand of weed killer owned by Scotts Miracle-Gro.

39 Cast (off) : SLOUGHED

To slough off is to cast off, especially when one is talking about the skin of a snake or other animal.

41 Maestro’s wave of a baton, say : CUE

“Maestro” is often used to address a musical conductor. “Maestro” (plural “maestri”) is the Italian word for “master, teacher”. The plural in English is usually “maestros”.

48 Walk with a swing of the hips and shoulders : SASHAY

To sashay is to strut along in a showy manner. “Sashay” is an Anglicized form of the French word “chassé”, a sliding step used in square dancing.

52 Flier in a black cloud : GNAT

Gnats are attracted to the smell of rotting food, and vinegar. Simple homemade traps that use vinegar are often constructed to attract and kill gnats.

55 Airline to Ben Gurion : EL AL

Ben Gurion International (TLV) is Israel’s main airport, and is located in the city of Lod just a few miles southeast of Tel Aviv. The airport is named for David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

59 Yearnings : YENS

The word “yen”, meaning “urge”, has been around in English since the very early 1900s. It comes from the earlier word “yin” imported from Chinese, which was used in English to describe an intense craving for opium.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Strip bordering Israel and Egypt : GAZA
5 Antidote : CURE
9 Up to now : AS YET
14 Boatloads : A LOT
15 “Now!,” in an order : ASAP!
16 Exuberant cry : BOOYA!
17 Riddle-de-dee: What is it that the more you take, the more you leave behind? : FOOTSTEPS
19 Soup eater’s sound : SLURP
20 ___ position : FETAL
21 Laughfest : RIOT
23 Galena and sphalerite : ORES
24 Wheel tooth : COG
26 Place to conduct a paternity test : DNA LAB
28 Activity on a school playground : KICKBALL
32 Things tinier than minis : MICROS
35 What’s flicked from a cigarette : ASH
36 Prime minister between Cameron and Johnson : MAY
37 Czar called “the Great” : PETER I
38 Severely cut, as prices : SLASHED
41 American Impressionist Mary : CASSATT
42 Greetings : HELLOS
43 Classroom temp : SUB
44 Thanksgiving day: Abbr. : THU
45 Invite on a date : ASK OUT
46 Purveyor of drug paraphernalia : HEAD SHOP
49 Dresser : BUREAU
51 Assenting vote : YEA
52 Swabbie’s liquor allotment, once : GROG
54 ___ of passage : RITE
56 Writing in a blue book : ESSAY
60 ___ ark : NOAH’S
62 Riddle-de-dee: What asks no questions but must be answered? : TELEPHONE
64 Worker for a TV station or a mag : AD REP
65 Ink cartridge color : CYAN
66 “You said it!” : AMEN!
67 One of the Kennedy brothers, familiarly : TEDDY
68 Detained : HELD
69 Trees used for archery bows : YEWS

Down

1 Fishing hook : GAFF
2 Soothing ointment : ALOE
3 ___ suit : ZOOT
4 Go on the offensive : ATTACK
5 Siamese or Persian : CAT
6 ___-friendly : USER
7 Double-quick : RAPIDLY
8 Printer brand : EPSON
9 “Six-pack” muscles : ABS
10 Ones performing alone : SOLO ACTS
11 Riddle-de-dee: What’s light as a feather but can’t be held for long? : YOUR BREATH
12 Brontë heroine : EYRE
13 Nightly bugle call : TAPS
18 Neatnik’s opposite : SLOB
22 Where the Rays play : TAMPA BAY
25 Professional poker player, e.g. : GAMESTER
27 Don’t believe them! : LIES
28 Buckwheat porridge : KASHA
29 St. Kitts and St. Vincent : ISLES
30 Riddle-de-dee: What’s clean when black and dirty when white? : CHALKBOARD
31 Little chap : LAD
33 Maker of Weed B Gon : ORTHO
34 Exercise that targets the 9-Down : SIT-UP
39 Cast (off) : SLOUGHED
40 Word after half or happy : … HOUR
41 Maestro’s wave of a baton, say : CUE
43 Sleep, informally : SHUT-EYE
47 Low-pitched : DEEP
48 Walk with a swing of the hips and shoulders : SASHAY
50 Letter after gee : AITCH
52 Flier in a black cloud : GNAT
53 Got transported : RODE
55 Airline to Ben Gurion : EL AL
57 “That’s ___ nerve!” : SOME
58 With a clean slate : ANEW
59 Yearnings : YENS
61 One lurking in the shadows : SPY
63 Bring to a close : END

13 thoughts on “0505-20 NY Times Crossword 5 May 20, Tuesday”

  1. 8:32, no errors. I went for a long walk yesterday afternoon and, when I got back, I had no internet or phone connection. Given everything else that’s going on, I already feel cut off from the world, so losing those final links affected me a lot more than I would have predicted. The problem was fixed about 10 o’clock, but the memory will linger … 😳.

    1. Oops. My time on this one was actually 7:07. (Not that it really matters, but 8:32 was for the LAT puzzle.)

    1. 11:22, no errors. My stupid tablet doesn’t always register my input and I have to often go back to fix missing letters. Grrr. The sun is out here in Anchorage so I’m gonna hop on my mountain bike and take a ride in the woods.

  2. 8:45. I’m actually getting on an airplane and flying into Houston today. United just started requiring masks on the airplanes starting yesterday. It’s a 3 hour flight from Las Vegas. I hope I don’t suffocate. They say you can remove it to drink your beverage. Suffice it to say I’ll be nursing that beverage for as long as I can.

    This evening I’m actually going out to dinner at a real restaurant as things have largely opened up in Texas. Apparently in the olden days, this type of activity was considered normal.

    Best –

  3. Quick start.. Bogged down in the south.. A little tricky for a Tuesday with words like KASHA, CASSATT, AITCH and then the whole YENS and YEWS in the SE corner.. Throw in a BOOYA and a semi abbreviated word like DNALAB for good measure and you got a …. Pfft… It was fun.

    Be safe

  4. The Ray’s do not play in Tampa Bay, the play in St Pete. They are named after the bay by the city. If they played in Tampa Bay they might drown. Silly point , silly clue. I’m from the Calton District of Glasgow Scotland and New York City if any ever said Riddle-De-Dee, well, I don’t know.

  5. 15:25 no errors..I noticed that Bill tactfully skipped an comments for AITCH …maybe it’s just me.
    Stay safe.

  6. 8:13, no errors. Lost time due to a few erasures: GAMBLER before GAMESTER; PINT before GROG; and a couple of write-o-graphical errors: DEEE before DEEP; ATTACH before ATTACK.

    Black CHALKBOARDs, brings back memories.

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