0528-20 NY Times Crossword 28 May 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Tracy Bennett
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Back-to-Back Shows

Themed answers comprise the names of two TV shows, side-by-side:

  • 19A What to do if you want to win bar trivia? : GET SMART FRIENDS (“Get Smart” & “Friends”)
  • 37A Medical professional with a passion for pep rallies? : DOCTOR WHO CHEERS (“Doctor Who” & “Cheers”)
  • 52A Predictable result of a choir’s Barry White singing contest? : THE SOPRANOS LOST (“The Sopranos” & “Lost”)

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 7m 30s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Get back (to) : RSVP

“RSVP” stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît”, which is French for “answer, please”.

8 Trim : SVELTE

“Svelte” comes into English from Latin, via the Italian “svelto” meaning “stretched out”. Something or someone described as svelte would be slender and graceful.

16 Yellow creature in a series of hit animated films : MINION

“Despicable Me” is a 2010 animated comedy film. The main voice actor in the movie is the very funny Steve Carell. “Despicable Me” is a Universal Pictures production, although all of the animation was done in France. The 2010 film was followed by a sequel “Despicable Me 2” released in 2013, with a prequel/spin-off film called “Minions” released in 2015.

17 Profit column figure : NET SALES

In a financial statement, “net sales” are “gross sales” net of customer discounts, customer returns and sales allowances paid if a product proves to be defective.

19 What to do if you want to win bar trivia? : GET SMART FRIENDS (“Get Smart” & “Friends”)

Trivia are things of little consequence. “Trivia” is the plural of the Latin word “trivium” which means “a place where three roads meet”. Now that’s what I call a trivial fact …

The satirical comedy series called “Get Smart” was the creation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, and starred Don Adams as Agent 86, Maxwell Smart. Agent 86 worked for the spy agency CONTROL, alongside the lovely Agent 99. CONTROL’s sworn enemy was the criminal organization called KAOS. Smart’s shoe phone was a hilarious prop used in almost every episode. When Smart dialed the number 117, the shoe converted into a gun. Cool stuff …

When the incredibly successful sitcom “Friends” was in development it was given the working title “Insomnia Cafe”. This was changed to “Friends Like Us”, before finally going to air as “Friends”.

21 Cause of swollen feet and ankles : EDEMA

Both animals and plants can suffer from edema, which is a swelling caused by excessive accumulation of fluid.

22 :-O !! : OMG

“OMG” is text-speak for “Oh My Gosh!” “Oh My Goodness!” or any other G-words you might care to use …

32 Iowa State city : AMES

Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU) is located in Ames, Iowa. Among many other notable milestones, ISU created the country’s first school of veterinary medicine, in 1879. The sports teams of ISU are known as the Cyclones.

36 Flasher at a rock concert : STROBE

A strobe light is a device that produces regular flashes, like the light on top of a police car. The term derives from the Greek “strobos” meaning “twisting, whirling”.

37 Medical professional with a passion for pep rallies? : DOCTOR WHO CHEERS (“Doctor Who” & “Cheers”)

The iconic science-fiction television show “Doctor Who” first aired in 1963 on the BBC, and relaunched in 2005. The relaunched series is produced in-house by the BBC in Cardiff in Wales, the location that is the setting of the successful “Doctor Who” spin-off called “Torchwood”. The new show is about the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood Institute which investigates incidents involving extraterrestrials. Why “Torchwood”? Well, “Torchwood” is an anagram of “Doctor Who”.

The wonderful sitcom “Cheers” ran for eleven seasons on NBC, from 1982 to 1993. “Cheers” spawned an equally successful spin-off show called “Frasier”, which also ran for eleven seasons and often featured guest appearances of characters from the original “Cheers”. The Cheers bar was styled on the Bull & Finch Pub in Boston (in which I’ve had a pint of Guinness two!). The owner of the Bill & Finch cleverly agreed to the initial interior and exterior shots, charging only one dollar. Since then he has made millions from selling “Cheers” memorabilia, and also from increased trade.

40 Golden rule word : OTHERS

The Golden Rule is also known as the ethic of reciprocity, and is a basis for the concept of human rights. A version of the rule used in the Christian tradition is attributed to Jesus:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

41 Flagship sch. with famed serpentine garden walls : UVA

The University of Virginia (UVA) was founded by Thomas Jefferson, who then sat on the original Board of Visitors alongside former US Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. In fact, the original UVA campus was built on land near Charlottesville that was once a farm belonging to President Monroe.

42 Those, in Quito : ESOS

The full name of the capital city of Ecuador is San Francisco de Quito. Quito is the second highest administrative capital city in the world, after La Paz, Bolivia.

44 “Scandal” creator Rhimes : SHONDA

Shonda Rhimes is the creator and head writer of the TV shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”. She also serves as executive producer for the crime shows “How to Get Away with Murder” and “The Catch”. Rhimes also runs her own production company called Shondaland.

46 Confucian scholar Chu ___ : HSI

Zhu Xi (also “Chu Hsi”) was a scholar in the Song Dynasty in China, and was a noted neo-Confucian.

52 Predictable result of a choir’s Barry White singing contest? : THE SOPRANOS LOST (“The Sopranos” & “Lost”)

Barry White was a singer-songwriter from Texas who grew up in South Central Los Angeles. White has a rough start to life and ended up in jail at 17 for stealing Cadillac tires. It was while in prison that White was inspired to begin a musical career, after listening to Elvis Presley on record singing “It’s Now or Never”. White’s greatest chart success was in the mid-seventies, with recordings such as “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up” and “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything”.

“The Sopranos” is an outstanding television drama made by HBO that is a story about Italian-American mobsters in New Jersey. “The Sopranos” is regularly cited as one of the best TV series of all time. It’s “must see TV” …

In the TV show “Lost”, the plane that crashed was operated by Oceanic Airlines. The fictional airline Oceanic Airlines or Oceanic Airways turns up a lot on the big and small screen. Try to spot Oceanic in the movies “Executive Decision” and “For Love of the Game”, and in episodes of the TV shows “Castle”, “Chuck”, “Flipper”, “The Goldbergs” and “The X-Files”.

60 Cause of just deserts : BAD KARMA

Karma is a religious concept with its basis in Indian faiths. Karma embraces the notion of cause and effect. Good deeds have good consequences at some later point in one’s life, one’s future life, or one’s afterlife. And, bad deeds have bad consequences.

The phrase “just deserts” describes something which is deserved, and in today’s usage that can be something good or bad. The expression has been around a long time, and back in the 14th century it only applied to something bad. I guess the idea is that someone doing something unacceptable got his “just deserts”, the dry and barren expanses fitting to the deed. Over time, the pronunciation of “deserts” changed, with the emphasis on the second syllable, like our word “desserts”. The correct phrase is still spelled “just deserts”, but it is pronounced “just desserts”. As a result, many believe that the phrase is in fact spelled “just desserts”, meaning one is getting what one deserves, sweet endings to one’s meals, as it were. But no, one is getting a dry and arid expanse that sounds like something sweet to eat!

61 Fortune 500 company that started out selling books : 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 …

65 Striped blue balls : TENS

The more correct name for the game of pool is “pocket billiards”. The designation “pool” arose after pocket billiards became a common feature in “pool halls”, places where gamblers “pooled” their money to bet on horse races.

Down

3 Sporty ride, informally : VETTE

The Chevrolet Corvette was introduced to the world in 1953, and was named after the small maneuverable warship called a corvette. The “Vette” has legs. It is the only American sports car that has been around for over 50 years.

4 Measure up : PASS MUSTER

“To pass muster” means “to be deemed acceptable”. One musters troops, often for inspection. So, the original meaning of “pass muster” was to “get through a military inspection successfully”.

5 ___ monster : GILA

A Gila monster is a venomous lizard found in the southwestern US and northern Mexico, and is the only venomous lizard native to America. Gila monsters move along at a snail’s pace so aren’t normally a danger to humans. The name “Gila” is a reference to the Gila River Basin in the American Southwest, where the Gila monster was prevalent.

8 Insincere charm : SMARM

The word “smarm” describes insincere flattery. The term comes from a colloquial word “smalm” that was used in the mid-19th century to mean “smear the hair with some sort of styling product”.

9 Moor’s foe in the early eighth century : VISIGOTH

The East Germanic tribe called the Goths had two main branches, called the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. The Visigothic capital was the city of Toulouse in France, whereas the Ostrogoth capital was the Italian city of Ravenna just inland of the Adriatic coast. It was the Visigoths who sacked Rome in 410 CE, heralding the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

11 Property interest : LIEN

A lien is the right that one has to retain or secure someone’s property until a debt is paid. When an individual takes out a car loan, for example, the lending bank is usually a lien holder. The bank releases the lien on the car when the loan is paid in full.

12 Pride : lion :: knot : ___ : TOAD

Here are some colorful collective nouns:

  • A pride of lions
  • A shrewdness of apes
  • A cloud of bats
  • A bench of bishops
  • A clowder of cats
  • A waddling of ducks
  • An army of frogs
  • A knot of toads

13 Specialist M.D.s : ENTS

The branch of medicine known as “ear, nose and throat” (ENT) is more correctly called “otolaryngology”.

15 Teachers of the dharma : LAMAS

“Lama” is a Tibetan word meaning “chief, high priest”.

In the context of Buddhism, “dharma” can mean the collection of teachings and doctrines of the faith. The term is also used to describe proper and correct behavior that maintains the natural order of things.

20 Dandy : FOP

A dandy is a man who is overly fastidious with regard to his personal appearance. There’s a suggestion that the term originated in Scotland, where “Dandy” is a diminutive of the name “Andrew”. Back in the early 1800s, when the use of “dandy” was at its height, the female equivalent was a dandizette.

25 Crow relative : DAW

Daws are better known today as jackdaws and belong to the crow family. The jackdaw features in a famous pangram (i.e. a short sentence containing all 26 letters of the alphabet), i.e. “Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz”.

28 Final words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech : FREE AT LAST

“Free at last” are words used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the end of his “I have a dream …” speech:

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

30 River through Spain : EBRO

The Ebro is the longest river in Spain. The river was known by the Romans as the Iber, and it is the “Iber” river that gives the “Iberian” Peninsula its name.

31 Playable kid in the Super Smash Bros. games : NESS

“Super Smash Bros.” is a series of fighting games played on the Wii video game console. Apparently, it’s very popular …

33 Bulb circler : MOTH

It isn’t really understood why moths are attracted to artificial lights. There is one theory that sounds plausible to me though. It is suggested that moths navigate at night by maintaining the moon (the brightest celestial object) at a fixed angle. When a moth finds a brighter light source, like an artificial light, it gets confused.

36 Checkers do it : SCAN

The initialism “UPC” stands for Universal Price Code or Universal Product Code. The first ever UPC-marked item to get scanned in a store was on June 26, 1974 at 08:01 a.m. at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio. It was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

39 Ab ___ (from the beginning) : OVO

“Ab ovo” translates literally from Latin as “from the egg”, and is used in English to mean “from the beginning”.

49 Marauding group : HORDE

A horde is a large crowd. “Horde” ultimately derives from the Turkish “ordu” meaning “camp, army”.

50 Ottoman Empire founder : OSMAN

Osman I was the man who established the Ottoman Dynasty, with “Ottoman” coming from the name “Osman”. This is despite the fact that the “Ottoman Empire” came about with the conquest of Constantinople, and that didn’t happen until almost 130 years after Osman I died.

51 Corset bones and collar stiffeners : STAYS

A corset is a close-fitting undergarment that is stiffened with a material such as whalebone. Corsets are more usually worn by women, to shape the body. The word “corset” is a diminutive of the Old French “cors” meaning “body”.

53 Mia who appeared on a Wheaties box in 1999 : HAMM

Mia Hamm is a retired American soccer player. She played as a forward on the US national team that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. Hamm scored 158 international goals, which was more than any other player in the world, male or female, until the record was broken in 2013. Amazingly, Hamm was born with a clubfoot, and so had to wear corrective shoes when she was growing up.

Wheaties were introduced to the world in 1924, making it the oldest cereal produced by General Mills. The idea of mixing wheat and bran together into a cereal was the result of an accidental spill of wheat bran into a stove. The product was first called Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes, and this was changed to Wheaties after an employee contest to find a better name.

54 Style : ELAN

Our word “élan” was imported from French, in which language the word has a similar meaning to ours, i.e “style, flair”.

57 “The Lion King” queen : NALA

In “The Lion King”, Nala is a lioness and the childhood friend of Simba. By the end of the story, Nala and Simba become wedded. “The Lion King” is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, with Simba representing the title character, and Nala representing Hamlet’s love interest Ophelia.

58 Jazz vocalist Anita : O’DAY

“Anita O’Day” was the stage name of the jazz singer Anita Colton. She chose the name as “O’Day” is Pig Latin for “dough”, a slang term for “money”. O’Day had problems with heroin and alcohol addiction leading to erratic behavior, and earning her the nickname “The Jezebel of Jazz”.

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Get back (to) : RSVP
5 Hunk : GOB
8 Trim : SVELTE
14 Totally trounced : ATE ALIVE
16 Yellow creature in a series of hit animated films : MINION
17 Profit column figure : NET SALES
18 On a par with, in terms of tidiness : AS NEAT
19 What to do if you want to win bar trivia? : GET SMART FRIENDS (“Get Smart” & “Friends”)
21 Cause of swollen feet and ankles : EDEMA
22 :-O !! : OMG
23 Depleted : USED UP
27 Habitually : OFTEN
32 Iowa State city : AMES
35 “Olé!” cousin : RAH!
36 Flasher at a rock concert : STROBE
37 Medical professional with a passion for pep rallies? : DOCTOR WHO CHEERS (“Doctor Who” & “Cheers”)
40 Golden rule word : OTHERS
41 Flagship sch. with famed serpentine garden walls : UVA
42 Those, in Quito : ESOS
43 Electrical problem : SHORT
44 “Scandal” creator Rhimes : SHONDA
46 Confucian scholar Chu ___ : HSI
48 Community spirit : ETHOS
52 Predictable result of a choir’s Barry White singing contest? : THE SOPRANOS LOST (“The Sopranos” & “Lost”)
59 Compound like NaCl or HCl : HALIDE
60 Cause of just deserts : BAD KARMA
61 Fortune 500 company that started out selling books : AMAZON
62 Commencement week tradition at many colleges : CLASS DAY
63 “My turn now” : I’M NEXT
64 For example : SAY
65 Striped blue balls : TENS

Down

1 Actor’s asset : RANGE
2 Snorty ride : STEED
3 Sporty ride, informally : VETTE
4 Measure up : PASS MUSTER
5 ___ monster : GILA
6 The boss of : OVER
7 Alternative to “Yours truly” : BEST
8 Insincere charm : SMARM
9 Moor’s foe in the early eighth century : VISIGOTH
10 Suffix similar to -ess : -ENNE
11 Property interest : LIEN
12 Pride : lion :: knot : ___ : TOAD
13 Specialist M.D.s : ENTS
15 Teachers of the dharma : LAMAS
20 Dandy : FOP
24 Goes wrong : ERRS
25 Crow relative : DAW
26 “Yup” : UH-HUH
28 Final words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech : FREE AT LAST
29 Tips for a shoeshiner : TOES
30 River through Spain : EBRO
31 Playable kid in the Super Smash Bros. games : NESS
32 Bustles : ADOS
33 Bulb circler : MOTH
34 Resound : ECHO
36 Checkers do it : SCAN
38 Keenly observant : ORTHODOX
39 Ab ___ (from the beginning) : OVO
44 British title : SIR
45 Things many people work on all day long : DESKS
47 Depleted : SPENT
49 Marauding group : HORDE
50 Ottoman Empire founder : OSMAN
51 Corset bones and collar stiffeners : STAYS
52 Popular takeout option : THAI
53 Mia who appeared on a Wheaties box in 1999 : HAMM
54 Style : ELAN
55 Order specification : SIZE
56 Intro-level info : ABCS
57 “The Lion King” queen : NALA
58 Jazz vocalist Anita : O’DAY

15 thoughts on “0528-20 NY Times Crossword 28 May 20, Thursday”

  1. 38:59 Not a time I’m overly happy about, but I’ll take “finishing on a Thursday” as a win. And a puzzle with an homage to Jeff, how can you go wrong?

  2. 18:08, no errors. I spent some time looking for a Thursday rebus just to discover there wasn’t one. Pretty good time for me for a Thursday puzzle. w00t.

  3. 25:15. I can’t believe how long it took me to get BEST for 7D. I never noticed the theme despite CHEERS, THE SOPRANOS and GET SMART being three of my all time favorites. Sheesh I don’t know where my head was.

    I was a little distracted while doing this puzzle. I was having a refrigerator delivered after my old one died over the weekend. It just stopped working for no reason. I emptied it out, put what I could in my spare freezer in my garage, bought a cooler and ice to keep some things cold. I cleaned out the old refrigerator, bought a new one, cleaned out the area under the old fridge, and after all of that……the refrigerator came back on for no reason – about 36 hours after turning itself off for no reason. It was like something out of a cartoon.

    I kept the new one as I now assume the old one is cursed and/or just out to get me.

    A shrewdness of apes? Really?

    BEST –

      1. Yeah everyone seemed to get it except me. I think there was a puzzle once where the answer was “JEFF”, and I missed it. That might have been more embarrassing.

  4. 57 Down Nala . Clue given is Lion King’s Queen. Besides the explanation given by the compiler, another coincident explanation exists. NA is abbreviation for Narasimha the Lion God . LA is abbreviation for God’s consort , Lakshmi. They always are together . Hence NALA .

  5. 1:01:00 of frustration only to wind up with one error…I had sParm for sMarm …you can’t win them all…GRR
    Stay safe

  6. 19:09, no errors. Clever construction. This was one of those challenging puzzles that make you feel good if you solve it, and frustrated if you don’t. Happy that I didn’t stick with the guesses OVA/SHANDA. Took me a long time to recognize that SVELTE isn’t spelled SVELDT….

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