0512-20 NY Times Crossword 12 May 20, Tuesday

Constructed by: Tom Pepper & Zhouqin Burnikel
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: This Is Not a Toy!

Themed answers each start with a TOY:

  • 36A Product warning label appropriate for the answers to the four starred clues : THIS IS NOT A TOY
  • 17A *Dessert with light and dark streaks : MARBLE CAKE
  • 24A *First thing to do on a to-do list : TOP PRIORITY
  • 47A *Sidewinder, for one : RATTLESNAKE
  • 57A *One having trouble keeping weight off : YO-YO DIETER

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 6m 48s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

6 Foot or furlong : UNIT

There are eight furlongs in a mile. The name “furlong” comes from the Old English “furh” (meaning “furrow”) and “lang” (meaning “long”). In Anglo-Saxon times, a furlong was the length of a furrow in a ploughed field that was one acre in area. The width of said one-acre field was defined as one chain.

14 Constellation with Rigel and Betelgeuse : ORION

According to Greek mythology, Orion was a giant hunter who was placed in the night sky by Zeus, the king of the gods. Orion is very recognizable as a constellation, especially with the three bright stars known as “Orion’s Belt”. The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is said to be Orion’s hunting dog, and this star sits at Orion’s “foot”.

Rigel is the sixth brightest star in the night sky, and the brightest star in the constellation of Orion. If you can imagine the stars in Orion laid out, Rigel is at his left foot. The name “Rigel” is an abbreviated version of the Arabic term for “Left Foot of the Central One”.

The very recognizable constellation of Orion is named for the Greek god Orion, the Hunter. If you take a look at the star in Orion’s “right shoulder”, the second brightest star in the constellation, you might notice that it is quite red in color. This is the famous star called Betelgeuse, a red supergiant, a huge star that is on its way out. Betelgeuse is expected to explode into a supernova within the next thousand years or so. You don’t want to miss that …

15 Prefix with second : NANO-

“Nanosecond” is more correctly abbreviated to “ns” (as opposed to “nsec”) and really is a tiny amount of time: one billionth of a second.

16 Prep school near Windsor Castle : ETON

The world-famous Eton College is just a brisk walk from Windsor Castle, which itself is just outside London. Eton is noted for producing many British leaders including David Cameron who was British prime minister from 2010 to 2016. The list of Old Etonians also includes Princes William and Harry, the Duke of Wellington and George Orwell. Author Ian Fleming was also and Eton alumnus, as was Fleming’s iconic character James Bond, although 007 was expelled by the school.

Windsor Castle is located on the River Thames in Berkshire, just 20 miles outside London. It was built in the early 11th century by William the Conqueror after the Norman invasion of England. Queen Elizabeth II likes to spend her weekends at Windsor. She has lots of room to move around there, as it’s the largest inhabited castle in the world.

20 The Black Knights of college football : ARMY

The Army Black Knights are the athletic teams of the United States Military Academy. The team’s were the Black Knights of the Hudson, as the academy’s football team wore black uniforms and West Point is situated on the Hudson River in New York State.

21 Computer seen at a Genius Bar : MAC

The technical support desk found in Apple Retail Stores is rather inventively called the Genius Bar. The certified support technicians are known as “Geniuses”. The trainees are called GYOs: Grow-Your-Own-Geniuses.

22 Gustav who composed “The Planets” : HOLST

Despite the Scandinavian-sounding name, Gustav Holst was born in Britain and was the most English of classical composers. His most famous work is the orchestral suite known as ‘The Planets”. The suite has seven movements, one for each of the planets known at the time (1914-1916) except Earth. Pluto was discovered during Holst’s lifetime, but decades after he had completed his masterpiece. Anyway, Pluto was relegated from the league of planets …

23 Dundee denial : NAE

The city of Dundee lies on the north bank of the Firth of Tay in Scotland. The origins of the name “Dundee” are a little obscure, although the omnipresent “dùn” in place names all over Scotland and Ireland is the Celtic word for “fort”.

27 Building material that was no problem for the Big Bad Wolf : STRAW

The Big Bad Wolf is a character in many folklore stories, including “Little Red Riding” and “Three Little Pigs”. Walt Disney’s version of the Big Bad Wolf is called Zeke Wolf, and has a son called Li’l Bad Wolf, or just “Li’l Wolf” to his friends.

The fairy tale about “The Three Little Pigs” has been around for centuries, although it first appeared in print in the 1840s. One little pig built a house using straw and another built one using wood. The cleverest little pig built its house using bricks.

30 Pioneer in email : AOL

Founded as Quantum Computer Services in 1983, the company changed its name in 1989 to America Online. As America Online went international, the acronym AOL was used in order to shake off the “America-centric” sound to the name. During the heady days of AOL’s success the company could not keep up with the growing number of subscribers, so people trying to connect often encountered busy signals. That’s when users referred to AOL as “Always Off-Line”.

35 About, on a memo : IN RE

The term “in re” is Latin, and is derived from “in” (in) and “res” (thing, matter). “In re” literally means “in the matter”, and is used to mean “in regard to” or “in the matter of”.

39 Like Brown University since 1971 : COED

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is one of the eight Ivy League schools. Brown has been around a long time, founded in 1764, years before America declared independence from England. The university took the name of Brown in 1804 after one Nicholas Brown, Jr. gave a substantial gift to the school. The school’s athletic teams are known as the Brown Bears, and their mascot is Bruno.

42 35mm camera type : SLR

The initialism “SLR” stands for “single lens reflex”. Usually, cameras with changeable lenses are the SLR type. The main feature of an SLR is that a mirror reflects the image seen through the lens out through the viewfinder, so that the photographer sees exactly what the lens sees. The mirror moves out of the way as the picture is taken, and the image that comes through the lens falls onto unexposed film, or nowadays onto a digital sensor.

47 *Sidewinder, for one : RATTLESNAKE

The scales covering the tip of a rattlesnake’s tail are made of keratin, the same structural protein that makes up the outer layer of human skin, as well as our hair and nails. The rattlesnake shakes its tail vigorously to warn off potential predators, causing the hollow scales to vibrate against one another and resulting in that scary “rattle” sound. The rattler’s tail muscles “fire” an incredible fifty times a second to achieve that effect, demonstrating one of the fastest muscular movements in the whole animal kingdom.

53 Broncos Hall-of-Famer John : ELWAY

Former quarterback John Elway played his entire professional football career with the Denver Broncos. Elway was the oldest player ever to be named MVP in a Super Bowl game, being so honored in Super Bowl XXXIII in the 1998 season after the Broncos’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

54 ___ Lanka : SRI

The island nation of Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast of India. The name “Sri Lanka” translates from Sanskrit into English as “venerable island”. Before 1970, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, a name given to the country during British rule.

55 “Encore!” : MORE!

“Encore” is French for “again, one more time”, and is a shout that an audience member will make here in North America to request perhaps another song. But, the term is not used this way in France. Rather, the audience will shout “Bis!”, which is the Italian for “twice!”

63 Discarded part of a watermelon : SEED

The watermelon that we find in the grocery store is actually a berry produced by the flowering, vine-like watermelon plant. Seedless watermelons were developed by Japanese scientists in 1939, and now seedless varieties account for over 80% of watermelon sales in the US.

Down

1 Residents of the Eternal City : ROMANS

The Italian capital of Rome is known as “The Eternal City”, a name given by ancient Roman poets and writers.

2 Noah’s Ark landing site : ARARAT

Mount Ararat is in Turkey. Ararat is a snow-capped, dormant volcano with two peaks. The higher of the two, Greater Ararat, is the tallest peak in the country. Ararat takes its name from a legendary Armenian hero called Ara the Beautiful (or Ara the Handsome). According to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat as the Great Flood subsided.

4 Country singer Keith : TOBY

Toby Keith is a country music singer from Clinton, Oklahoma. One of Keith’s number one hits is a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson called “Beer for My Horses”.

5 Show with Kate McKinnon, in brief : SNL

Comedian and impressionist Kate McKinnon’s career took off when she became a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 2013. Famously, McKinnon portrayed Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. She also co-starred in the 2016 reboot of the movie “Ghostbusters”, playing Dr. Jillian Holtzmann.

7 ___ Image Awards : NAACP

The NAACP Image Awards are presented annually to recognise people of color in the worlds of film, television, music and literature. The first awards were presented in 1967, and the ceremony usually takes place in Los Angeles.

11 Language in which “thank you” is “grazie,” to natives : ITALIANO

In Italian, “Italiano” (Italian) is a “lingua” (language).

13 Au courant : IN STYLE

“Au courant” means “up-to-date” and comes into English directly from French, in which language it has the same meaning.

24 Deuces : TWOS

A “two” playing card might be called a “deuce”, from the Middle French “deus” (or Modern French “deux”) meaning “two”.

25 ___ the mill (ordinary) : RUN OF

Something described as run-of-the-mill is unspectacular, quite normal. The idea is that the regular production from say a sawmill isn’t perfect, but does the job. Imperfections in the wood can be expected, but the milled wood should get the job done. Going back a few years, similar expressions were quite common, such as “run-of-the-kiln” and “run-of-the-mine”.

28 It’s below 7 on the pH scale : ACID

As we all recall from chemistry class, a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything less than 7 is an acid, and anything above 7 is a base.

33 Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great : TSARS

The Grand Prince of Moscow, and first Tsar of Russia, Ivan IV became known as “Ivan the Terrible”. The name “terrible” is a translation from Russian, and perhaps creates the wrong impression about the man. The Russian word is “Grozny”, which is more akin to “strict” and “powerful” rather than “cruel” or “abominable”.

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.

34 ___ Arbor, Mich. : ANN

Ann Arbor, Michigan was founded in 1824 by John Allen and Elisha Rumsey. Supposedly, Allen and Rumsey originally used the name “Annsarbour” in recognition of stands of bur oak that were on the land they had purchased and in recognition of their wives, both of whom were called “Ann” (i.e. Anns’ Arbor)

38 ESPN’s Arthur ___ Courage Award : ASHE

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award has been presented annually since 1993 as part of the ESPY Awards. Named for tennis great Arthur Ashe, the Courage Award is presented to individuals whose contributions “transcend sports”. The list of recipients includes Howard Cosell (1995), Muhammad Ali (1997), Billie Jean King (1999), Nelson Mandela (2009), Caitlyn Jenner (2015) and Eunice Kennedy Shriver (2017).

39 Post boxes? : CEREALS

C. W. Post decided to get into the cereal business after visiting the Battle Creek Sanitarium operated by John Harvey Kellogg. Post was interested in the chemistry of digestion and was inspired by the dietary products offered by Kellogg at his sanitarium. The first breakfast cereal Post introduced was Grape-Nuts, way back in 1897.

44 Light particle : PHOTON

In the field of electromagnetic radiation, a photon is the basic unit of light, and an elementary particle. The photon is believed to have no mass, but this fact does seem to create some theoretical inconsistencies … which I just don’t understand!

45 “I’ve found it!” : EUREKA!

“Eureka” translates from Greek as “I have found it”. The word is usually associated with Archimedes, uttered as he stepped into his bath one day. His discovery was that the volume of water that was displaced was equal to that of the object (presumably his foot) that had been submerged. He used this fact to determine the volume of a crown, something he needed in order to determine if it was made of pure gold or was a forgery.

46 Crow with nine Grammys : SHERYL

Famously, Sheryl Crow dated cyclist Lance Armstrong from 2003-2006. Armstrong has stated publicly more than once that Crow’s music cured his cancer.

49 Justin Timberlake’s former band : NSYNC

Justin Timberlake got his break by appearing on TV’s “Star Search” from which he was given a starring role in “The New Mickey Mouse Club”. It was on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” that he met his future girlfriend Britney Spears, as well JC Chasez who would join Timberlake in the lineup of the boy band NSYNC.

55 Something frequently reposted : MEME

A meme (from “mineme”) is a cultural practice or idea that is passed on verbally or by repetition from one person to another. The term lends itself very well to the online world where links, emails, files etc. are so easily propagated.

59 Comcast, e.g., for short : ISP

An Internet service provider (ISP) is just what the name indicates, a company that provides its customers with access to the Internet. One way that ISPs differentiate themselves from each other is in the way in which end users are connected to the ISP’s network. So, there are cable ISPs, DSL ISPs, dial-up ISPs and satellite ISPs.

Comcast is the largest cable company in the United States. Comcast was founded in 1963 as American Cable systems. The company provides many of its services under the brand name “Xfinity”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Rapids transits? : RAFTS
6 Foot or furlong : UNIT
10 With 10-Down, enthusiastic south-of-the-border assent : SI SI …
14 Constellation with Rigel and Betelgeuse : ORION
15 Prefix with second : NANO-
16 Prep school near Windsor Castle : ETON
17 *Dessert with light and dark streaks : MARBLE CAKE
19 Puts the cuffs on : NABS
20 The Black Knights of college football : ARMY
21 Computer seen at a Genius Bar : MAC
22 Gustav who composed “The Planets” : HOLST
23 Dundee denial : NAE
24 *First thing to do on a to-do list : TOP PRIORITY
27 Building material that was no problem for the Big Bad Wolf : STRAW
29 Catering hall dispenser : URN
30 Pioneer in email : AOL
31 Microsoft virtual assistant introduced in 2014 : CORTANA
35 About, on a memo : IN RE
36 Product warning label appropriate for the answers to the four starred clues : THIS IS NOT A TOY
39 Like Brown University since 1971 : COED
40 Comic convention, for one : FAN FEST
41 Info for an Uber or Lyft customer, for short : ETA
42 35mm camera type : SLR
43 Sells hard : HYPES
47 *Sidewinder, for one : RATTLESNAKE
52 “Whaaa?” : HUH?
53 Broncos Hall-of-Famer John : ELWAY
54 ___ Lanka : SRI
55 “Encore!” : MORE!
56 “What a pity” : ALAS
57 *One having trouble keeping weight off : YO-YO DIETER
60 Not prerecorded : LIVE
61 Establishments at many highway interchanges : INNS
62 Like the flavor of some barbecue sauces : SMOKY
63 Discarded part of a watermelon : SEED
64 Walk back and forth : PACE
65 ___ code : PENAL

Down

1 Residents of the Eternal City : ROMANS
2 Noah’s Ark landing site : ARARAT
3 Less yielding, as a mattress : FIRMER
4 Country singer Keith : TOBY
5 Show with Kate McKinnon, in brief : SNL
6 Open, as a bottle : UNCAP
7 ___ Image Awards : NAACP
8 Printed publicity, slangily : INK
9 One of 20 for a bear : TOE
10 See 10-Across : …, SENOR!
11 Language in which “thank you” is “grazie,” to natives : ITALIANO
12 Excuse meant to elicit sympathy : SOB STORY
13 Au courant : IN STYLE
18 Angst-ridden rock genre : EMO
22 Pumpkin : HON
24 Deuces : TWOS
25 ___ the mill (ordinary) : RUN OF
26 Steaming mad : IRATE
28 It’s below 7 on the pH scale : ACID
32 Rummage (through) : RIFLE
33 Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great : TSARS
34 ___ Arbor, Mich. : ANN
35 Wee : ITTY
36 What a whopper! : TOTAL LIE
37 When air-conditioners really hum : HEATWAVE
38 ESPN’s Arthur ___ Courage Award : ASHE
39 Post boxes? : CEREALS
42 On the ___ (sneakily) : SLY
44 Light particle : PHOTON
45 “I’ve found it!” : EUREKA!
46 Crow with nine Grammys : SHERYL
48 Used a stun gun on : TASED
49 Justin Timberlake’s former band : NSYNC
50 Came to light : AROSE
51 Not be serious : KID
55 Something frequently reposted : MEME
57 Puppy’s bark : YIP
58 “I’m ___ roll!” : ON A
59 Comcast, e.g., for short : ISP

9 thoughts on “0512-20 NY Times Crossword 12 May 20, Tuesday”

  1. 7:07, no errors. I always enjoy encountering the word “furlong”. When I was nine or ten, I encountered, in the library of the one-room country school I attended, a book called “Handy Andy”, published in 1841 by an Irishman named Samuel Lover – a book that introduced me, in the most memorable way, to the concept of the pun, one of which involved a character whose last name was Furlong and who, as part of the retinue of a local noble, was described as “one Furlong, from the castle”.

    I also remember a poem from the book (one that I did not fully understand at the time, though I did know that the names of a certain goddess and a certain fire-starting product were involved): “Matches are made in Heaven, they say, but Hymen, who mischief oft hatches, sometimes deals with the house t’other side of the way, and there they make Lucifer matches!”

  2. 10:45 I almost had to ask how “pumpkin” yielded “hon”, but then it hit me…. not a fan of that one…

  3. 9:33. Last to fall was the actual reveal so I had no help from the theme. Tricky in a few spots, e.g. the HON, HORST, SOB STORY nexus gave me the most difficulty.

    I definitely remember those AOL busy signals in the late 90’s. Frustrating as he**.

    In terms of photons – they don’t have mass but they do have momentum…even with no mass. To get to that, you need to expand from the regular classical (Newtonian) equation (some might call it an approximation) for momentum (p=mv) as v approaches the speed of light. Once you see the math it’s not difficult to see even if the concept is.

    Best –

  4. 11:04, no errors. I don’t know why I tried both canoe and kayak before (eureka) entering rafts on 1 across. Maybe because I have a canoe in my backyard and a kayak in the garage?

  5. No errors.. Nothing spectacular until I read the comments….. NONNY MUS remembers a poem from when he was 8 years old?? And Jeff gives us a math less on photon energy and then Alaska Steve throws in his CANOE and KAYAK references!!! Too good! .. And it’s only monday!!! Can’t wait for Tuesday.. I guess I could peak since I’m at least a month behind.

  6. No problems. CORTANA was by far the most interesting word for me. I had no knowledge about “her”. In the days of Siri and Alexa, Cortana is something of an anomaly. Nevertheless, “she” is an interesting case study.

  7. 9:25, no errors. Still have a “NOT A TOY” tag, from when my kids were young (they are in their 40’s). It was hung on my computer desk to remind them that my computer was “NOT A TOY”.

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