0514-20 NY Times Crossword 14 May 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Michael Schlossberg
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Bingo

Themed answers have related clues involving the word “Bingo”. The grid resembles a BINGO card, complete with a FREE square in the center:

  • 17A Bingo, in Scrabble : FIFTY-POINT BONUS
  • 27A “B-I-N-G-O,” e.g. : NURSERY RHYME
  • 46A Bingo, for one : GAME OF CHANCE
  • 61A “Bingo!” : ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
  • 37A Breakfast aisle option for a wheat allergy : GLUTEN-FREE CEREAL
  • 25D 1987 drama set in apartheid-era South Africa : CRY FREEDOM

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 10m 56s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

9 Old detective magazines, e.g. : PULPS

“Pulp fiction” was the name given to cheap, fiction magazines that were popular from the late 1890s up to the 1950s. The phrase comes from the inexpensive wood pulp paper that was used for the publications. The upmarket equivalent was printed on fine glossy paper.

14 Astringent target : PORE

An astringent is a chemical compound that tends to shrink or constrict body tissues.

15 Indian tourist mecca : AGRA

Agra is a medieval city on the banks of the river Yamuna in India. Agra was also the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1658. The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

  • The Taj Mahal: the famous mausoleum built in memory of Mumtaz Mahal.
  • Agra Fort: the site where the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was seized.
  • Fatehpur Sikri: a historic city that’s home to well-preserved Mughal architecture.

17 Bingo, in Scrabble : FIFTY-POINT BONUS

In the North American version of Scrabble, laying all seven tiles in one turn earns a 50-point bonus, and is called a “bingo”.

20 One of the friends on “Friends” : ROSS

Ross Geller is the character on “Friends” played by David Schwimmer. The role was actually written with Schwimmer in mind, and so Ross was the first of the “Friends” to be cast.

21 Upscale San Francisco neighborhood : NOB HILL

Nob Hill is a very elevated and central location in the city of San Francisco. Because of its views of the surrounding city and environs, Nob Hill became a desirable place to live for the wealthy in the 1800s. The area is still one of San Francisco’s most affluent neighborhoods and is home to upscale hotels as well as the magnificent Grace Cathedral. The name “Nob Hill” comes from the slang term for someone who is well-to-do, a “nob”.

26 Assembly line? : NAY

A representative in the US House, say, votes “yea” or “nay”.

27 “B-I-N-G-O,” e.g. : NURSERY RHYME

There was a farmer who had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
And Bingo was his name-o.

32 Cellular plan? : DNA

I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the DNA of living things is so very similar across different species. Human DNA is almost exactly the same for every individual (to the degree of 99.9%). However, those small differences are sufficient to distinguish one individual from another, and to determine whether or not individuals are close family relatives.

34 Second Amendment focus : ARMS

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was adopted in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. The actual text of the amendment is:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The wording and punctuation in the original text has led to some controversy over the years, some debate over the original intent. That might be an understatement …

37 Breakfast aisle option for a wheat allergy : GLUTEN-FREE CEREAL

Gluten is a protein mixture found in foods processed mainly from wheat. The sticky properties of gluten are used in making bread, giving dough its elasticity and making the final product chewy. “Gluten” is the Latin word for “glue”.

42 Solomonic sort : SAGE

According to the Bible, Solomon was the son of David and a king of Israel. Notably, Solomon is described as being very wise. In the story known as “the Judgment of Solomon”, Solomon was asked to decide which of two quarreling women was the mother of a baby. He suggested that they cut the baby in two with a sword, forcing one of the women to surrender the child rather than see it die. Solomon gave the child to the woman who showed compassion.

44 Zip : NIL

The use of the words “zip” and “zippo” to mean “nothing” dates back to the early 1900s, when it was student slang for being graded zero on a test.

46 Bingo, for one : GAME OF CHANCE

Our game called “Bingo” is a derivative of an Italian lottery game called “Il Giuoco del Lotto d’Italia” that became popular in the 16th-century.

51 Indian honorific : SRI

“Sri” is a title of respect for a male in India.

55 ___ Castle, Japanese landmark : OSAKA

The Japanese city of Osaka used to be called Naniwa, with the name changing to Osaka sometime before 1500. “Osaka” can be translated either as “large hill” or “large slope”. Osaka is sometimes referred to as “the Chicago of Japan” as it is a major center of commerce and industry. The city has also been named the “nation’s kitchen”, and was a center for Japan’s rice trade for centuries.

56 Residents of the Friendly Islands : TONGANS

The Kingdom of Tonga is made up of 176 islands in the South Pacific, 52 of which are inhabited and scattered over an area of 270,000 square miles. Tonga was given the name Friendly Islands in 1773 when Captain James Cook first landed there, a reference to the warm reception given to the visitors.

67 Dust Bowl traveler : OKIE

The Dust Bowl was a period in which severe dust storms ravaged the American and Canadian Prairies in the thirties. A major factor in the storms was the loss of the deep-rooted grasses native to the land that had been displaced by intensive farming. Without the grasses, the topsoil was blown away in a period of drought.

70 Barclays Center team : NETS

The Barclays Center is an arena in Brooklyn, New York that is home to the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA, and to the New York Islanders of the NHL. Barclays ended up paying over $200 million for the naming rights, even though the London-based banking group has no retail banks or ATMs in the US.

Down

1 50 is a high one: Abbr. : SPF

In theory, the sun protection factor (SPF) is a calibrated measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. The idea is that if you wear a lotion with say SPF 20, then it takes 20 times as much UV radiation to cause the skin to burn than it would take without protection. I say just stay out of the sun …

2 Luau bowlful : POI

Nowadays the word “luau” denotes almost any kind of party on the Hawaiian Islands, but to the purist a luau is a feast that always includes a serving of poi, the bulbous underground stems of taro.

4 Low-maintenance fish : TETRAS

The neon tetra is a freshwater fish that is native to parts of South America. The tetra is a very popular aquarium fish and millions are imported into the US every year. Almost all of the imported tetras are farm-raised in Asia and very few come from their native continent.

7 N.L. West team: Abbr. : ARI

The Arizona Diamondbacks (also “D-backs”) joined Major League Baseball’s National League in 1998. By winning the World Series in 2001, the Diamondbacks became the fastest expansion team to do so in Major League history.

9 ___ Xtra (soda) : PIBB

The soft drink on the market today called Pibb Xtra used to be known as Mr Pibb, and before that was called Peppo. Peppo was introduced in 1972 as a direct competitor to Dr Pepper.

10 Worrisome word at a nuclear plant : UH-OH

A nuclear reactor is a device designed to maintain a self-contained nuclear chain reaction. Nuclear fission generates heat in the reactor core. That heat is transferred out of the core by a nuclear reactor coolant, and is used to turn steam turbines. Those steam turbines usually drive electrical generators, or perhaps a ship’s propellers.

11 2017 biography subtitled “The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror” : LENIN

“Lenin” wasn’t the birth name of the Russian leader. He was born Vladimir Ulyanov, and originally used “Lenin” as a pen name.

13 “r u kidding me?!” : SRSLY?!

“Srsly?” is text-speak for “seriously?”

18 Arthurian times, say : YORE

King Arthur (and his Round Table) probably never really existed, but his legend is very persistent. Arthur was supposedly a leader of the Romano-British as they tried to resist the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

19 Boris Johnson, for one : TORY

“Tory” comes from the Irish word “tóraí” meaning “outlaw, robber”. The term “tory” was originally used for an Irish outlaw and later became a term of abuse for Irish rebels. At the end of the reign of King Charles II in Britain, there was a political divide with one side being called “Whigs” and the other “Tories”. Historically, the term “Tory” evolved to basically mean a supporter of the British monarchy, and indeed was used to describe those who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution. Today, “Tory” is used for a member of the British Conservative Party.

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.

22 Word often shortened to its middle letter : AND

“And” is sometimes shortened to “‘n’”.

25 1987 drama set in apartheid-era South Africa : CRY FREEDOM

Steve Biko was an anti-apartheid activist in the sixties and seventies in South Africa. Biko died in police custody and came to be viewed as a martyr to the anti-apartheid cause. The 1987 movie “Cry Freedom”, directed by Richard Attenborough. tells Biko’s story, with Denzel Washington playing the lead.

28 Number in a shield symbol: Abbr. : RTE

That would be a road sign.

Rand McNally is a company long associated with the city of Chicago. Its roots go back to 1856 when William Rand opened a printing shop in the city. Two years later he hired an Irish immigrant named Andrew McNally and the pair turned to printing tickets and timetables for the railroad industry. They diversified into “railroad guides” in 1870, including the first Rand McNally map in the December 1872 edition. When automobile travel started to become significant, Rand and McNally turned their attention to roads and they published their first road map in 1904, a map of New York City. Rand and McNally popularized the use of highway numbers, and indeed erected many roadside highway signs themselves, long before the state and federal authorities adopted the idea.

35 Sustenance from heaven : MANNA

According to the Book of Exodus, manna was a food eaten by the Israelites as they traveled out of Egypt. The manna “fell” to Earth during the night, six days a week, and was gathered in the morning before it had time to melt.

38 Comfy boot : UGG

Uggs are sheepskin boots that were first produced in Australia and New Zealand. The original Uggs have sheepskin fleece on the inside for comfort and insulation, with a tanned leather surface on the outside for durability. “Ugg” is a generic term Down Under, although it’s a brand name here in the US.

40 Half-___ (order for a barista) : CAF

A barista is a person who serves coffee in a coffee shop. “Barista” is Italian for “bartender”.

48 Yankees great Howard : ELSTON

Elston Howard was the first African American to play for the New York Yankees, and was the first African American to become the American League’s MVP, an honor he received in 1963. Howard also goes down in history as the inventor of the batting donut, the lead weight that slips around a bat to make it feel heavier.

49 Frost : HOAR

The Old English word “har” meant “gray, venerable, old”, and came into English as “hoar” (and later “hoary”) with the same meaning. The term “hoar-frost” dates back to the 13th century, and reflects the similarity of the white feathers of frost to the gray/white of an old man’s beard.

51 Bucks : STAGS

A male deer is usually called a buck, and a female is a doe. However, the male red deer is usually referred to as a stag. The males of even larger species of deer are often called bulls, and females cows. In older English, male deer of over 5 years were called harts, and females of over 3 years were called hinds. The young of small species are known as fawns, and of larger species are called calves. All very confusing …

52 “I’m not a ___” (captcha phrase) : ROBOT

A CAPTCHA is a challenge-and-response test that is used to determine if a user is a human or some automated program. The acronym “CAPTCHA” stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”.

53 Popular photo app, informally : INSTA

Instagram (often abbreviated to “Insta”) is a photo-sharing application, one that is extremely popular. Instagram started in San Francisco in 2010. Facebook purchased Instagram two years later, paying $1 billion. The billion-dollar Instagram company had just 13 employees at the time of the sale …

57 Joint problem : GOUT

Gout is caused by an elevation of the levels of uric acid in the blood. As a result of the high concentrations, the uric acid can crystallize out in tissue causing extreme discomfort. What we tend to call gout occurs when the crystals are deposited in the big toe. Gout is sometimes referred to as “the disease of kings” or “the rich man’s disease”, as it is associated with a traditionally opulent diet.

58 Feature of the Swiss Miss logo : ALPS

Swiss Miss is a brand of cocoa powder and related products sold by ConAgra Foods. The original Swiss Miss product was introduced in the 1950s and sold exclusively to airlines. Back then, airlines were in the habit of making hot cocoa for their passengers. Swiss Miss became so popular on flights that it was later added to grocery store shelves.

60 Harmful substances to swallow : LYES

What we call “lye” is usually sodium hydroxide, although historically the term “lye” was used for potassium hydroxide. Lye has many uses, including to cure several foodstuffs. Lye can make olives less bitter, for example. The chemical is also found in canned mandarin oranges, pretzels and Japanese ramen noodles. More concentrated grades of lye are used to clear drains and clean ovens. Scary …

63 Muscular Pontiac : GTO

When the Pontiac division of General Motors brought out the GTO muscle car, the Oldsmobile division responded with a beefed-up version of the Cutlass that was dubbed 4-4-2. The 4-4-2 designation indicated a four-barrel carburettor, a four-speed manual gearbox and dual exhausts.

65 Atlanta-based TV inits. : TBS

The tbs cable television station started out in 1967 as a local broadcast TV station in Atlanta. The station’s first call letters were WJRJ-TV, and this was changed to WTCG in 1970 when it was acquired by Ted Turner (the TCG stood for Turner Communications Group). In 1976, Turner started distributing WTCG via satellite making its programming available in other parts of the country. WTCG was only the second channel to transmit via satellite, following HBO. The difference was that WTCG was broadcast without requiring a premium subscription. The station’s call sign was changed again in 1979 to WTBS, with “TBS” standing for Turner Broadcasting System. In 1981, the channel adopted the moniker “Superstation WTBS”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Squabble : SPAT
5 “Um, sure” : YEAH
9 Old detective magazines, e.g. : PULPS
14 Astringent target : PORE
15 Indian tourist mecca : AGRA
16 “Word on the street is …” : I HEAR …
17 Bingo, in Scrabble : FIFTY-POINT BONUS
20 One of the friends on “Friends” : ROSS
21 Upscale San Francisco neighborhood : NOB HILL
22 Site for a rite : ALTAR
25 Something with a belt and coat : CAR
26 Assembly line? : NAY
27 “B-I-N-G-O,” e.g. : NURSERY RHYME
32 Cellular plan? : DNA
33 Flirt (with) : TOY
34 Second Amendment focus : ARMS
37 Breakfast aisle option for a wheat allergy : GLUTEN-FREE CEREAL
42 Solomonic sort : SAGE
43 Russian yeses : DAS
44 Zip : NIL
46 Bingo, for one : GAME OF CHANCE
51 Indian honorific : SRI
54 Towering tree : ELM
55 ___ Castle, Japanese landmark : OSAKA
56 Residents of the Friendly Islands : TONGANS
59 “Such a shame” : ALAS
61 “Bingo!” : ABSOLUTELY RIGHT
66 Arose : GOT UP
67 Dust Bowl traveler : OKIE
68 Perforate, in a way : STAB
69 Batting avg. and such : STATS
70 Barclays Center team : NETS
71 Scrap : TOSS

Down

1 50 is a high one: Abbr. : SPF
2 Luau bowlful : POI
3 “C’mon, throw me a bone already!” : ARF!
4 Low-maintenance fish : TETRAS
5 Jibber-jabbers : YAPS
6 Things coaches handle : EGOS
7 N.L. West team: Abbr. : ARI
8 Palindromic woman’s name : HANNAH
9 ___ Xtra (soda) : PIBB
10 Worrisome word at a nuclear plant : UH-OH
11 2017 biography subtitled “The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror” : LENIN
12 Pulitzer-winning playwright Vogel : PAULA
13 “r u kidding me?!” : SRSLY?!
18 Arthurian times, say : YORE
19 Boris Johnson, for one : TORY
22 Word often shortened to its middle letter : AND
23 Pulmonologist’s study : LUNGS
24 Musical syllables : TRA-LA
25 1987 drama set in apartheid-era South Africa : CRY FREEDOM
28 Number in a shield symbol: Abbr. : RTE
29 Over there : YON
30 Spoil : MAR
31 ‘Fore : ‘ERE
35 Sustenance from heaven : MANNA
36 Smooth-talking : SLICK
38 Comfy boot : UGG
39 Leaves before paying the check? : TEA
40 Half-___ (order for a barista) : CAF
41 Key to get out of full-screen video : ESC
45 Pasture : LEA
47 One might be dropped in a to-go bag : MENU
48 Yankees great Howard : ELSTON
49 Frost : HOAR
50 What might help you make your goal? : ASSIST
51 Bucks : STAGS
52 “I’m not a ___” (captcha phrase) : ROBOT
53 Popular photo app, informally : INSTA
57 Joint problem : GOUT
58 Feature of the Swiss Miss logo : ALPS
59 Dismounted : ALIT
60 Harmful substances to swallow : LYES
62 Squeak (out) : EKE
63 Muscular Pontiac : GTO
64 Orders : HAS
65 Atlanta-based TV inits. : TBS

12 thoughts on “0514-20 NY Times Crossword 14 May 20, Thursday”

  1. 16:39, no errors. I was going to express some consternation about that “FREE” square in the center coming at me without a revealer, but now I know that it’s a feature of a BINGO card (an item that I last saw at least 60 years ago … that must be why it slipped my memory … 😜).

  2. Check it out folks! No errors and a time of 22:22. How did that happen? I got the early traction at the bottom and worked my way up ending in the NE corner. Another sunny day in Anchorage…time for another mountain bike ride in the woods.

  3. 32:23 NW and SW stumped me last night, picked it up this morning and finished it. Alaska Steve, I’m
    jealous…. tonight will be the first night in a couple of weeks without a freeze warning in Western NY. Getting my bike ready 👍

  4. 19:34. Fun puzzle, but it wasn’t exactly your normal Thursday level trickiness.

    Both the NYT Wordplay article and Bill mention the setter’s intention of making the puzzle look like a bingo card. Aside from the FREE space in the middle, what other similarities are there? Aren’t bingo cards all columns of numbers with no black spaces? Not important, just curious if I’m missing something.

    Well this was my 100th consecutive NYT Xword solve. All that means is I’ve been home a lot more than usual. My previous record was 39, and even that was an outlier. I went to Houston last week for 4 days and barely kept the streak alive. It won’t survive my next trip.

    The temp here in Las Vegas has plummeted down to 87 today. We’ve already had several 100 degree days. No snow around my house anytime soon…

    Best –

  5. No errors.. It was a quick solve until I got to the NE corner and when I was left with SRSLY on 13D, I stared at that for 10 minutes. Had no clue what it meant. Never seen it before. Seems a bit contrived to fit the squares.., is there a legitimate texters dictionary that defines that or is it just convenient??? SRSLY!!

  6. 34:42 no errors…as usual I spent a great deal of time in one spot.
    Today it was the NE corner where all the “never heard ofs” were jammed together…like I have said before I don’t think this is an accident but that’s. Just me.
    Stay safe.

  7. DNF after 25 mins. 12 squares in the NE corner blank, everything else filled in correctly. Even with PIBB and NOB HILL, entered PULPS in 9A but erased it; didn’t know about the 50 point bonus in Scrabble, couldn’t accept UH-OH as ‘a word’, 11D and 12D were unknowns. Tomorrow is another day.

  8. No errors. Like many others the NE had me stumped for a while and was the last area to be filled. The Y on SRSLY being the final letter. I thought that “Assembly line?” was a very poor clue.

    Despite the trouble, I thought this one was very easy for a Thursday. The editors should have run Wednesday on Thursday and Thursday on Wednesday.

  9. Enjoyed the puzzle. Relatively easy for tricky Thursday. (There are many legislatures formally called Assemblies, but I wouldn’t refer to the U.S. House by that title.)

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