0716-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Jul 20, Thursday

Constructed by: Evan Kalish
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Reveal Answer: Dark Art

The six DARK blocks of three, side-by-side squares in the grid actually hide the letters ART, which are needed to complete today’s themed answers:

  • 68A Witchcraft … or what each block of three black squares in this puzzle represents? : DARK ART
  • 20A Cause of death in the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Sign of the Four” : POISON DART
  • 29A Part of the Constitution establishing the executive branch : ARTICLE II
  • 47A Diagram at a business meeting : FLOWCHART
  • 55A Protagonist in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” : ARTHUR DENT
  • 21D Lifesaving prosthetic : ARTIFICIAL HEART

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 10m 37s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Classic MTV show that launched a film franchise : JACKASS

“Jackass” is a reality show that originally aired on MTV from 2000 to 2001. The show features a group of men doing stunts in which they usually get injured to some extent. The leader of the group is called Johnny Knoxville, who appears in the stunts and who also created the show. Not my cup of tea …

15 Firm, in a way : AL DENTE

The Italian expression “al dente” literally means “to the tooth” or “to the bite” and is used to describe not only pasta, but also vegetables that are cooked so that they are tender and yet still crisp.

16 “Fifty Shades of Grey,” e.g. : EROTICA

The name of Eros, the Greek god of love, gives rise to our word “erotic” meaning “arousing sexual desire”. Eros was referred to in Latin as both “Amor” (meaning “love”) and “Cupid” (meaning “desire”).

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is an incredibly popular erotic novel by British writer E. L. James. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is the fastest-selling paperback of all time. There are two other titles to complete the trilogy: “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed”.

17 Certain fair fare : CORN DOG

The hot dog on a stick (corn dog) dates back at least to 1947, and probably earlier. The name corn dog comes from the corn batter around the hot dog, and its resemblance on the stick to an ear of corn.

18 Involving crystals and incense, say : NEW-AGEY

The New Age Movement is a western philosophy with roots that date back to the early 1800s. The movement focuses on achieving the highest human potential as an individual and embraces many traditionally eastern spiritual practices, but eschews all religious doctrines. New Age music is composed with the intent of supporting this philosophy. It tends to be very minimalistic, very tonal and harmonic. It is often used as a backdrop for relaxation or meditation.

20 Cause of death in the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Sign of the Four” : POISON DART

According to author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his character Sherlock Holmes was based on a Dr. Joseph Bell for whom Doyle worked in Edinburgh. That said, Bell actually wrote a letter to Doyle in which he said “you are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it”.

22 “___ Meets Godzilla” (classic film short) : BAMBI

“Bambi Meets Godzilla” is regarded as one of the world’s most respected cartoons. It’s just two minutes of footage, but apparently, everyone loves it …

29 Part of the Constitution establishing the executive branch : ARTICLE II

Article II of the US Constitution establishes and defines the powers of the executive branch of the federal government. The article specifically assigns those powers to the office of the US president.

32 Where I-80 crosses the Missouri River : OMAHA

Interstate 80 is the second-longest highway in the US (after I-90). It runs east-west from San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey. I-80 largely follows the route of the first road across America, the historic Lincoln Highway.

34 Narrative through multiple TV episodes : STORY ARC

A story arc is a continuing storyline in say a television show that runs through a number of episodes. Story arcs are also found in comics, books, video games, and other forms of media.

38 Sighting from a crow’s-nest : LAND

A crow’s nest is a structure atop the mainmast of a ship that is used as a lookout point. The first crow’s nest was erected in 1807, and was simply a barrel that was lashed to the tallest mast. Supposedly, the structure is named for the crows or ravens that Vikings carried with them on their voyages. The birds were released and used as navigation aids as invariably, the crow or raven headed straight for the nearest land.

41 Lift at a resort : T-BAR

A T-bar is a ski lift on which the skiers are pulled up the hill in pairs, with each pair standing (not sitting!) either side of a T-shaped metal bar. The bar is placed behind the thighs, pulling along the skiers as they remain standing on their skis (hopefully!). There’s also a J-bar, which is a similar device but with each J-shaped bar used by one skier at a time.

44 Numerical trio : AREA CODE

Area codes were introduced in the 1940s. Back then, the “clicks” one heard when dialling a number led to mechanical wear on various pieces of equipment. In order to minimize overall mechanical wear, areas with high call volumes were given the most efficient area codes (lowest number of clicks). That led to New York getting the area code 212, Los Angeles 213 and Chicago 313.

49 “Then again …,” in texts : OTOH …

On the other hand (OTOH)

51 Ankle bones : TARSI

The tarsals (also “tarsi”) are the ankle bones, and are equivalent to the carpals in the wrist.

55 Protagonist in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” : ARTHUR DENT

One of the themes in the Douglas Adams novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is the search for the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything”. The supercomputer called Deep Thought ponders this question for 7½ million years and comes to the conclusion that the answer is … 42.

58 Mary ___ Evans, real name of George Eliot : ANN

“George Eliot” was the pen name of English novelist Mary Anne Evans. As one might think, Evans chose a male pen name in order that her work might be best appreciated in the Victorian era. Eliot wrote seven novels including “Adam Bede” (1859), “The Mill on the Floss” (1860), “Silas Marner” (1861) and “Middlemarch” (1871-72).

65 Video game controller that uses gesture recognition : WIIMOTE

“Wiimote” is an alternative name for the Wii Remote, the controller for the Nintendo Wii gaming console.

66 Johannes Gutenberg, for one : PRINTER

The printing press was invented in the mid-15th century by German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg. Books were printed prior to the invention of the press, but the techniques used were clumsy and slow. Gutenberg introduced the concept of movable, reusable type, which revolutionized book production. Fifty years after the introduction of Gutenberg’s press, over twenty million volumes had been produced in Western Europe.

67 Voice actor for Carl in “Up” : ED ASNER

Ed Asner is most famous for playing the irascible but lovable Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and on the spin-off drama “Lou Grant”. Off-screen Asner is noted for his political activism. He served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and was very involved in the 1980 SAG strike. When “Lou Grant” was cancelled in 1982, despite decent ratings, there was a lot of talk that the cancellation was a move by the network against Asner personally. In fact, one of Asner’s activist colleagues, Howard Hesseman (who played Johnny Fever) found that his show “WKRP in Cincinnati” was also canceled … on the very same day.

“Up” was the tenth movie released by Pixar studios, and features the wonderful animation that we have come to expect from Pixar. The film earned itself two Academy Awards. The main voice actor is Ed Asner, whose animated persona as Carl Fredricksen was created to resemble Spencer Tracy, as Tracy appeared in his last film, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.

Down

1 ___ deGrom, two-time Cy Young Award winner (2018 and 2019) : JACOB

Jacob deGrom is a baseball pitcher who made his Major League debut with the New York Mets in 2014. Apart from his performance on the field, DeGrom was famous for wearing his hair unusually long for a couple of seasons. There was even a promotional Jacob DeGrom Hair Hat given away at games during the 2016 season.

Cy Young was a pitcher in the major leagues from 1890-1911. Young is remembered for pitching the first perfect game of baseball’s modern era. Soon after he died in 1955, the Cy Young Award was created and is presented to the best pitcher in each baseball season.

2 Hello or goodbye : ALOHA

The Hawaiian word “aloha” has many meanings in English: affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. More recently, “aloha” has come to mean “hello” and “goodbye”, but only since the mid-1800s.

3 Obsolescent storage device : CD-ROM

“CD-ROM” stands for “compact disc read only memory”. The name indicates that you can read information from the disc (like a standard music CD for example), but you cannot write to it. You can also buy a CD-RW, which stands for “compact disc – rewritable”, with which you can read data and also write over it multiple times using a suitable CD drive.

4 “Jeopardy!” genius Jennings : KEN

Ken Jennings is a remarkable man, the person who had the longest winning streak on television’s “Jeopardy”. He has also won more game show money than any other person. He was defeated after 75 appearances on the show, after racking up over $2.5 million in the prior episodes.

6 What red might mean : STOP

The first traffic lights date back to 1868 when they were installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London. They resembled the signals already in use for trains, with semaphore arms and red and green gas lamps for nighttime use. That first system was operated manually, by a policeman at the base. Sadly, one police officer was killed just one year after the light’s installation, when the gas system exploded.

7 ___ lily : SEGO

The sego lily is the state flower of Utah, and is a perennial plant found throughout the Western United States.

8 Dojo master : SENSEI

“Sensei” is a Japanese form of address used for figures of authority, from lawyers to martial arts instructors.

The Japanese word “dojo” translates literally as “place of the way”. Originally the term applied to training halls that were found in or beside temples. The teaching in a dojo was not limited to the martial arts, but in the Western world we use the dojo as the name for a training facility for judo, karate and the like.

9 Black-and-white stack : OREOS

The Oreo was the best-selling cookie in the 20th century, and almost 500 billion of them have been sold since they were introduced in 1912 by Nabisco. In those early days the creme filling was made with pork fat, but today vegetable oils are used instead. If you take a bite out of an Oreo sold outside of America you might notice a difference from the homegrown cookie, as coconut oil is added in the overseas version to give a different taste.

10 “___ Abbey” : DOWNTON

In the incredibly successful period drama “Downton Abbey”, the patriarch of the family living at Downton is Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham or Lord Grantham. The character is played by Hugh Bonneville. Lord Grantham married American Cora Levinson (played by Elizabeth McGovern). Lord and Lady Grantham had three daughters, and no sons. The lack of a male heir implied that the Grantham estate would pass to a male cousin, and out of the immediate family. The Grantham daughters are Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) and Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay). Lady Sybil had the audacity to marry the family chauffeur, who was an Irish nationalist. The shame of it all …

23 Subpar performance? : BIRDIE

The following terms are routinely used in golf for scores relative to par:

  • Bogey: one over par
  • Par
  • Birdie: one under par
  • Eagle: two under par
  • Albatross (also “double eagle”): three under par
  • Condor: four under par

No one has ever recorded a condor during a professional tournament.

24 Like the planet Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back” : ICY

The fictional planet known as Hoth is featured in the “Star Wars” movie “The Empire Strikes Back”. Hoth is an ice planet, and home to a secret base belonging to the Rebel Alliance.

26 Classic leading lady honored on both U.S. and Swedish postage : GARBO

Famously, Greta Garbo lived a life of seclusion in New York City after she retired from the entertainment business. Commentators often associated her need for privacy with a line she uttered in the great 1932 movie “Grand Hotel”. Her character Grusinskaya the Russian ballerina said, “I want to be alone (…) I just want to be alone”.

35 Off-limits : TABOO

The word “taboo” was introduced into English by Captain Cook in his book “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean”. Cook described “tabu” (likely imitative of a Tongan word that he had heard) as something that was both consecrated and forbidden.

40 ___-Magnon (early human) : CRO

Remains of early man, dating back to 35,000 years ago, were found in Abri de Cro-Magnon in southwest France, giving the name to those early humans. Cro-Magnon remains are the oldest human relics that have been discovered in Europe.

43 Company with a great deal of advertising? : GROUPON

Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that was started in 2008. The concept behind the business is illustrated by the company name, a portmanteau of “group coupon”. Each day a discount coupon is offered to website members who sign up knowing that the coupon requires a minimum number of “takers” in order for it to be valid. If too few buyers sign up, then the coupon is void. When sufficient buyers sign up the coupon is honored, and the retailer benefits from the large volume of business generated. Groupon was very successful for a couple of years and predictions were made that the company would reach $1 billion in sales faster than any other company in history. That forecast changed dramatically, and the CEO was ousted in February 2013.

47 Hay, say : FODDER

“Fodder”, meaning “animal feed”, is an Old English word for “food”.

Hay is dried grass that is stored for use as animal fodder. Straw consists of the dried stalks of cereal plants, the residue left after the grain and chaff have been removed. Straw can also be used as animal fodder, as well as fuel, bedding and thatch.

52 One with dreads, maybe : RASTA

Dreadlocks are matted coils of hair that are usually formed intentionally, although if one lets hair grow out without grooming then it naturally forms twisted and matted dreadlocks. The hairstyle is associated with the Rastafarian movement in which “dread” is a very positive term meaning “fear of the Lord”.

54 Like neon : INERT

Neon was discovered in 1898 by two British chemists Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers. They chilled a sample of air, turning it into a liquid. They then warmed that liquid and separated out the gases that boiled off. Along with nitrogen, oxygen and argon (already known), the pair of scientists discovered two new gases. The first they called “krypton” and the second “neon”. “Krypton” is Greek for “the hidden one” and “neon” is Greek for “new”.

56 “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” org. : NYPD

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is the largest municipal police force in the country. The department’s roots go back as far as 1625 when there was an eight-man night watch in the days when New York was still known as New Amsterdam. Several disparate forces with policing responsibility were amalgamated in 1844 to form the New York City Police Department, signalling the end of the night watch force that had existed for over 200 years.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is a sitcom set in the 99th precinct of the NYPD in Brooklyn. Star of the show is “Saturday Night Live” alum Andy Samberg, who plays Detective Jake Peralta.

57 Prefix with watt : TERA-

The prefix “tera-” signifies a trillion, and comes from the Greek word “teras” meaning “monster”.

60 Josh : KID

When the verb “to josh”, meaning “to kid”, was coined in the 1840s as an American slang term, it was written with a capital J. It is likely that the term somehow comes from the proper name “Joshua”, but no one seems to remember why.

61 Its HQ contains a sculpture with a still-unsolved coded message : CIA

“Kryptos” is a fascinating sculpture that sits on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The work contains four encrypted messages that were created by the sculptor Jim Sanborn and Ed Scheidt, then Chairman of the CIA Cryptographic Center. What’s interesting is that only three of the messages have been decoded to date.

63 Title reportedly turned down by Stephen Hawking : SIR

Stephen Hawking was a theoretical physicist from Oxford, England. Hawking owed much of his fame in the world of popular science to his incredibly successful book called “A Brief History of Time”. “A Brief History of Time” has sold over 10 million copies and was on London’s “Sunday Times” bestseller list for over four years. Hawking does a wonderful job of explaining many aspects of cosmology without losing the average reader. There is only one equation in the whole book, and that equation is “E = mc2”. Hawking’s life story is recounted in the excellent 2014 film “The Theory of Everything”.

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Classic MTV show that launched a film franchise : JACKASS
8 Common recyclable : SODA CAN
15 Firm, in a way : AL DENTE
16 “Fifty Shades of Grey,” e.g. : EROTICA
17 Certain fair fare : CORN DOG
18 Involving crystals and incense, say : NEW-AGEY
19 “I just knew it!” : OHO!
20 Cause of death in the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Sign of the Four” : POISON DART
22 “___ Meets Godzilla” (classic film short) : BAMBI
25 Ending with slug or gab : … FEST
26 Break : GAP
29 Part of the Constitution establishing the executive branch : ARTICLE II
32 Where I-80 crosses the Missouri River : OMAHA
34 Narrative through multiple TV episodes : STORY ARC
37 Caught : SNARED
38 Sighting from a crow’s-nest : LAND
39 Con : TRICK
41 Lift at a resort : T-BAR
42 Do a favor for : OBLIGE
44 Numerical trio : AREA CODE
46 Rude one in an audience : BOOER
47 Diagram at a business meeting : FLOWCHART
48 Disseminate : SOW
49 “Then again …,” in texts : OTOH …
51 Ankle bones : TARSI
55 Protagonist in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” : ARTHUR DENT
58 Mary ___ Evans, real name of George Eliot : ANN
59 Big name in online dating : OKCUPID
62 “Sure, makes sense” : YES, I SEE
65 Video game controller that uses gesture recognition : WIIMOTE
66 Johannes Gutenberg, for one : PRINTER
67 Voice actor for Carl in “Up” : ED ASNER
68 Witchcraft … or what each block of three black squares in this puzzle represents? : DARK ART

Down

1 ___ deGrom, two-time Cy Young Award winner (2018 and 2019) : JACOB
2 Hello or goodbye : ALOHA
3 Obsolescent storage device : CD-ROM
4 “Jeopardy!” genius Jennings : KEN
5 “Then what happened …?” : AND …
6 What red might mean : STOP
7 ___ lily : SEGO
8 Dojo master : SENSEI
9 Black-and-white stack : OREOS
10 “___ Abbey” : DOWNTON
11 Slightly : A TAD
12 Smoke : CIG
13 Number one starter : ACE
14 House call? : NAY
21 Lifesaving prosthetic : ARTIFICIAL HEART
23 Subpar performance? : BIRDIE
24 Like the planet Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back” : ICY
26 Classic leading lady honored on both U.S. and Swedish postage : GARBO
27 Leading : AHEAD
28 Father : PADRE
30 Delinquent : LATE
31 Be off base : ERR
33 Powdered green tea leaves : MATCHA
34 Sorts who might wipe their mouths with their sleeves : SLOBS
35 Off-limits : TABOO
36 Turned up just a little : ON LOW
37 Distort : SKEW
40 ___-Magnon (early human) : CRO
43 Company with a great deal of advertising? : GROUPON
45 Not just think : ACT
47 Hay, say : FODDER
50 Opposite of original : TRITE
52 One with dreads, maybe : RASTA
53 Nasty look : SNEER
54 Like neon : INERT
55 Doesn’t remember the words, say : HUMS
56 “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” org. : NYPD
57 Prefix with watt : TERA-
59 Be short : OWE
60 Josh : KID
61 Its HQ contains a sculpture with a still-unsolved coded message : CIA
63 Title reportedly turned down by Stephen Hawking : SIR
64 Sign : INK

16 thoughts on “0716-20 NY Times Crossword 16 Jul 20, Thursday”

  1. 13:03, no errors. Cute. Another demonstration that it is often advantageous to start in the lower right and work “backwards” … but … old habits die hard … so I got the “revealer” long after figuring out the gimmick … 😜.

  2. 30:19 This seems to be my “week in the barrel” as far as bringing up the rear. I figured out the theme early, but the northeast corner had me baffled for much too long…..

  3. 17:55 At first I thought it was a Rebus as I filled in HART for the FLOWCHART answer. Then realized that wasn’t quite working for other answers and even tho I had the Revealer already filled in, I needed a couple more answers to have it all make sense. For 22A I had RODAN as I saw it in another Godzilla clue in recent days. Also had DEBT vs. STOP for meaning red. Those stymied the NW corner a bit and it was the last to be filled in. Never heard of BAMBI meeting Godzilla. I can just imagine.

  4. 20:42, no errors. Got the gimmick early. Flew through most of it, then struggled at the end. Better than 2X @BILL. Yes!

  5. 18:17. Saw the gimmick early and often. I was cruising along with this one until the SW which took me 4 or 5 minutes to get through. I think I choked under the pressure of finishing too fast.

    I always assumed I-10 was the longest interstate because I was so familiar with it. I’ve driven every mile of it at one point or another – from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Monica, CA.

    For the record, I-90 which goes from Boston to Seattle is 3020 miles long. I-80 is 2900 miles long and I-10 is “only” 2460 miles long.

    Best –

  6. One more useless piece of trivia about I-10 – If you’re insane enough to make that drive from Jacksonville to Santa Monica, 890 of the 2460 miles – i.e. 36% or more than a third of the entire drive – is the state of Texas. Suggestion: opt for air travel.

    1. But if you do make the car trip, don’t do it in September. West Texas at that time of year is so hot and arid that I swear the air looks grey/blue. All you’ll see are cacti, cattle skulls, and dead armadillos. Oh, and if the wind has whipped up, a few tumbleweeds.

  7. Nice grid, Once I got the gimmick. Still messed up on TARSI.. I had TORSI.. dumb error. Never heard of GROUPON or MATCHA . Put that away for future use.

  8. DNF…all the obsolete junk in the SW corner did me in…as for Ken Jennings I stopped watching Jeopardy about a month Into

    his boring rein…I don’t think anyone is interested in seeing other contestants humiliated night after night in a runaway. Once he was defeated (and I suspect that could have been a setup) I began watching and enjoying it again 👎
    End of rant…stay safe😀

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