0720-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Jul 20, Monday

Constructed by: Alex Eaton-Salners
Edited by: Will Shortz

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): Starting Directions

Themed answers each start with a DIRECTION, and end with THE (NOUN):

  • 17A Exact : RIGHT ON THE MONEY
  • 31A Abandoned and helpless : LEFT IN THE LURCH
  • 37A Where someone who goes next is standing : FRONT OF THE LINE
  • 57A Classic Michael J. Fox movie : BACK TO THE FUTURE

… a complete list of answers

Bill’s time: 5m 48s

Bill’s errors: 0

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

1 Ogden who wrote “Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros, / I’ll stare at something less prepoceros” : NASH

Ogden Nash was a poet well known for his light and humorous verse, such as:

The rhino is a homely beast,
For human eyes he’s not a feast.
Farwell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I’ll stare at something less prepoceros.

5 Largest continent : ASIA

Most of the world’s population lives in Asia (60%), and Asia is the largest continent in terms of landmass (30% of the world). Asia also has the highest population density (246 people per square mile), and the most populous city on the continent is Shanghai, China.

15 Delivery vehicles : VANS

The vehicle we call a “van” takes its name from “caravan”, and is a shortened version of the older term. Back in the 1600s, a caravan was a covered cart. We still use the word “caravan” in Ireland to describe what we call a “mobile home” or “recreational vehicle” here in the US.

17 Exact : RIGHT ON THE MONEY

To be right on the money is to be completely correct and accurate. The phrase “right on the money” originally described a bet that turned out to be exactly right.

22 UPS competitor : DHL

Back in the sixties, Larry Hillblom was making pocket money as a Berkeley law student by doing courier runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. After law school, Hillblom decided to parlay his experience into his own business and set up a courier service flying bills of lading ahead of freight from San Francisco to Honolulu. He brought in two buddies, Adrian Dalsey and Robert Lynn, as partners and the three were soon hopping on and off commercial flights and gradually making more and more money. And DHL was born … D (for Dalsey) H (for Hillblom) L (for Lynn). DHL was acquired by Germany’s Deutsche Post in 2002.

23 Weapon of mass destruction, informally : H-BOMB

There are two classes of nuclear weapons, both of which get the energy for the explosion from nuclear reactions. The first nuclear bombs developed, called atomic bombs (A-bombs), use fission reactions. Uranium nuclei are split into smaller nuclei with the release of an awful lot of energy in the process. The second class of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs. These devices are called thermonuclear weapons or hydrogen bombs (H-bombs). In a fusion reaction, the nuclei of hydrogen isotopes are fused together to form bigger nuclei, with the release of even greater amounts of energy.

25 The Trojans of the N.C.A.A. : USC

The University of Southern California (USC) is a private school in Los Angeles. Apart from its excellent academic record, USC is known for the success of its athletic program. USC Trojans have won more Olympic medals than the students of any other university in the world. The USC marching band is very famous as well, and is known as the “Spirit of Troy”. The band has performed with many celebrities, and is the only college band to have two platinum records.

26 Girl’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet : EVIE

“Evie” sounds like “E-V”.

27 ___ Romeo (Italian auto) : ALFA

The “Alfa” in “Alfa Romeo” is actually an acronym, one standing for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Lombard Automobile Factory, Public Company”). ALFA was an enterprise founded in 1909 and which was taken over by Nicola Romeo in 1915. In 1920 the company name was changed to Alfa Romeo.

31 Abandoned and helpless : LEFT IN THE LURCH

To leave someone in the lurch is to abandon them in a difficult position. The phrase comes from an old French game called “lourche” or “lurch”, which was similar to backgammon. A player left “in the lurch” was in a hopeless position from which he or she could only lose the game.

35 Cheerios grain : OAT

Cheerios breakfast cereal has the distinction of being the first oat-based cereal introduced into the market, hitting the grocery store shelves in 1941. Back then, Cheerios were known as CheeriOats.

45 Military vehicles : JEEPS

The Jeep is the original off-road vehicle. It was developed by the American Bantam Car Company in 1940 at the request of the US government who recognized the upcoming need for the armed forces as American involvement in WWII loomed. The Bantam Company was too small to cope with demand, so the government gave the designs to competing car companies. The design and brand eventually ended up with AMC in the seventies and eighties.

46 Hawaiian wreath : LEI

“Lei” is a Hawaiian word meaning “garland, wreath”, although in more general terms a lei is any series of objects strung together as an adornment for the body.

53 “They rooked me!” : I WAS HAD!

To rook is to cheat. The earlier use of “rook” as a noun was as a disparaging term for a swindler or cheat. Somehow, it was insulting to refer to a person as a rook, as in the type of bird.

57 Classic Michael J. Fox movie : BACK TO THE FUTURE

Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play the lead character, Marty McFly, in 1985’s “Back to the Future”. Unfortunately, the producers of his TV sitcom “Family Ties” would not release him to make the movie, so the crew started filming with a different choice for the lead, namely actor Eric Stoltz. Weeks into production, it was decided that Stoltz was miscast, and Fox was approached again. An arrangement was made with the “Family Ties” producers to “share” Fox, which led to an exhausting schedule. Fox worked seven days a week, filming “Family Ties” during the day and working on “Back to the Future” at night, usually until 2:30 in the morning.

60 Go off, as a volcano : ERUPT

Our word “volcano” comes from “Vulcano”, the name of a volcanic island off the coast of Italy. The island’s name comes from Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Romans believed that the island of Vulcano was the chimney of the forge belonging to the god Vulcan. The Romans also believed that the eruptions on Mount Etna in Sicily were caused by Vulcan getting angry and working his forge so hard that sparks and smoke flew out of the top of the volcano.

61 Bat mitzvah dance : HORA

The hora is a circle dance that originated in the Balkans. It was brought to Israel by Romanian settlers, and is often performed to traditional, Israeli folk songs. The hora (also horah) is a regular sight at Jewish weddings. Sometimes the honoree at an event is raised on a chair during the hora.

A Jewish girl becomes a bat mitzvah at 12 years of age, the age at which she becomes responsible for her actions. Boys become bar mitzvahs at 13. The terms translate into English as daughter and son of the commandments.

62 “Dancing Queen” group : ABBA

“Dancing Queen” is a great, great song from 1976 that was released by the Swedish group ABBA. ABBA’s music has never been as popular in the US as it is in other countries, but “Dancing Queen” did make it to the number-one spot in the charts here. It was in fact, ABBA’s only #1 hit in the US.

63 Like good gossip : DISHY

To dish the dirt is to talk about someone or something without regard to veracity. The phrase comes from “dish” (in the sense of dishing out food) and “dirt” (in the sense of negative information). To be dishy is to be given to gossip.

Down

1 Tusked marine mammal : NARWHAL

The narwhal is a whale species in which the male has a large tusk. The “tusk” is actually a canine tooth that projects from the jaw through the lip. Usually only one tusk develops, on the left side of the jaw. Occasionally, a second tusk develops as well, on the right side of the jaw. The tusk is unlike a tooth in that it contains many nerves, making it a sensory organ. It is rarely used in an act of aggression.

5 Stratford-upon-___ : AVON

Stratford-upon-Avon is a town in the county of Warwickshire in the English midlands. Most famously perhaps, it was the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

19 Key above a tilde : ESC

The tilde diacritical mark (~) is very much associated with the Spanish language. We use the name “tilde” in English, taking that name from Spanish. Confusingly, the word “tilde” in Spanish is used more generally to mean “accent mark, diacritic”, of which a “~” is just one. What we call a “tilde” in English is usually referred to as a “virgulilla” or “tilde de la eñe” in Spanish.

28 Pesky insect : 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.

29 Bus driver on “The Simpsons” : OTTO

Otto Mann drives the school bus on the TV show “The Simpsons”. Otto is a Germanic character voiced by Harry Shearer, and his name is a play on “Ottoman Empire”. Whenever Bart sees him, he greets Otto with the words “Otto, man!”

33 Suffix with Smurf : -ETTE

The Smurfs are little blue people created in 1958 by the Belgian cartoonist who went by the pen name Peyo. The Smurfs became famous in the US when Hanna-Barbera used them in a children’s cartoon series. The characters are largely a group of males. The original lineup included just one “Smurfette”, who is wooed by almost all of the boy Smurfs. Later, another female was introduced into the mix called Sassette, and still later along came Granny Smurf.

34 Where Samson slew the Philistines : LEHI

In the story of Samson in the Bible, Samson is tied up with ropes and taken to Lehi where he breaks free of his bonds and uses the jawbones of an ass to slay one thousand Philistines. The full name for Lehi is Ramath Lehi which translates as “jawbone hill”.

37 Auto with a prancing horse logo : FERRARI

The Italian sports car company Ferrari was founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939. Ferrari built the most expensive car ever sold: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that exchanged hands for over $38 million in 2012.

40 Annual vaccination : FLU SHOT

A vaccine is a modified virus that is administered to an individual to stimulate the immune system into developing immunity. British physician Edward Jenner came up with the first vaccine, injecting people with the cowpox virus in order to prevent smallpox. The term “vaccination” comes from the Latin “vaccinus” meaning “from cows”, with “vacca” translating as “cow”.

41 Rapper ___ Kim : LIL’

“Lil’ Kim” is the stage name of rap artist Kimberly Denise Jones from Brooklyn, New York. Lil’ Kim spent a year in jail in 2005 for lying to a jury in a case about a shooting.

43 Dieting strategy that may lead to ketosis : NO CARBS

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. When a body consumes insufficient carbohydrates to meet the need for energy, then the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies in order to make up the energy deficit. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the bloodstream is known as “ketosis”, a term that gives rise to the name “ketogenic diet”. Medical professionals sometimes prescribe a ketogenic diet in order to control epilepsy in children. A condition of ketosis can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.

49 ___ Jima : IWO

Iwo Jima is a volcanic island located south of Tokyo that today is uninhabited. The name is Japanese for “Sulfur Island”, referring to the sulfur mining on which Iwo Jima’s economy once depended. There were about a thousand Japanese civilians living on the island prior to WWII. In 1944, there was a massive influx of Japanese military personnel in anticipation of the inevitable US invasion. As the Japanese military moved in, the civilians were forced out and no one has lived there since. Control of the island was wrested from the Japanese in the five-week Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Said battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific theater in WWII.

51 Professor’s email address ending : EDU

The .edu domain was one of the six original generic top-level domains specified. The complete original list is:

  • .com (commercial enterprise)
  • .net (entity involved in network infrastructure e.g. an ISP)
  • .mil (US military)
  • .org (not-for-profit organization)
  • .gov (US federal government entity)
  • .edu (college-level educational institution)

54 Sister and wife of Zeus : HERA

In Greek mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus and the goddess of women, marriage, family and childbirth. She was noted for her jealous and vengeful nature, particularly against those who vied for the affections of her husband. The equivalent character to Hera in Roman mythology was Juno. Hera was the daughter of Cronus and Rhea.

58 Metric meas. of speed : KPH

Kilometres per hour (kph)

Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1 Ogden who wrote “Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros, / I’ll stare at something less prepoceros” : NASH
5 Largest continent : ASIA
9 Responses to jokes : HA HAS
14 Female friend from France : AMIE
15 Delivery vehicles : VANS
16 Make into law : ENACT
17 Exact : RIGHT ON THE MONEY
20 Pale, as a face : WAN
21 First thing to do before changing clothes : UNDRESS
22 UPS competitor : DHL
23 Weapon of mass destruction, informally : H-BOMB
25 The Trojans of the N.C.A.A. : USC
26 Girl’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet : EVIE
27 ___ Romeo (Italian auto) : ALFA
28 “Cat ___ your tongue?” : GOT
30 Tows : DRAGS
31 Abandoned and helpless : LEFT IN THE LURCH
35 Cheerios grain : OAT
36 Roman numeral X : TEN
37 Where someone who goes next is standing : FRONT OF THE LINE
45 Military vehicles : JEEPS
46 Hawaiian wreath : LEI
47 Google’s red, yellow, green and blue “G,” e.g. : ICON
48 Some canine sounds : ARFS
49 Debtor’s note : IOU
51 Put into office : ELECT
52 Frat member : BRO
53 “They rooked me!” : I WAS HAD!
56 Something that goes in a garage : CAR
57 Classic Michael J. Fox movie : BACK TO THE FUTURE
60 Go off, as a volcano : ERUPT
61 Bat mitzvah dance : HORA
62 “Dancing Queen” group : ABBA
63 Like good gossip : DISHY
64 Twinkler in the night sky : STAR
65 ___ in show (canine award) : BEST

Down

1 Tusked marine mammal : NARWHAL
2 Easy to get along with : AMIABLE
3 Broadcast ender : SIGN-OFF
4 Sneaky laugh sound : HEH!
5 Stratford-upon-___ : AVON
6 Makeup of a beach : SAND
7 As a matter of fact : IN TRUTH
8 What remains after a fire : ASHES
9 Borders of skirts : HEMS
10 “I’ll take that as ___” : A NO
11 Dust buster : HAND VAC
12 Like the ideal poker straight : ACE-HIGH
13 Choices of hairdos : STYLES
18 Place to take a bath : TUB
19 Key above a tilde : ESC
24 Welcome ___ (item at the entrance to a home) : MAT
26 Blunder : ERR
28 Pesky insect : GNAT
29 Bus driver on “The Simpsons” : OTTO
30 Hill on a beach : DUNE
32 Charged particles : IONS
33 Suffix with Smurf : -ETTE
34 Where Samson slew the Philistines : LEHI
37 Auto with a prancing horse logo : FERRARI
38 Tap the screen on a camera app, say : REFOCUS
39 Special ___ : OPS
40 Annual vaccination : FLU SHOT
41 Rapper ___ Kim : LIL’
42 It goes “clink” in a drink : ICE CUBE
43 Dieting strategy that may lead to ketosis : NO CARBS
44 Beseech : ENTREAT
45 Made quick boxing punches : JABBED
49 ___ Jima : IWO
50 Declarations at inaugurations : OATHS
51 Professor’s email address ending : EDU
53 ___-bitty : ITTY
54 Sister and wife of Zeus : HERA
55 At a distance : AFAR
58 Metric meas. of speed : KPH
59 Part inserted to close a cereal box : TAB

15 thoughts on “0720-20 NY Times Crossword 20 Jul 20, Monday”

  1. 6:26, no errors. Did it last night. Enjoyed it, I think, but don’t remember much about it.

    Totally random question: Has anyone here used the phrase “put paid to” (as in the sentence, “The rain put paid to our plans for a picnic.”)? I woke up with it running through my head, more or less remembered what it meant, but realized I have not heard or seen it used in many years. The dictionary tells me that it is “chiefly British”.

  2. 8:12 bringing up the rear on a Monday..

    Nonny, I’ve never heard the expression “put paid to” prior to your mention of it today.

    1. @Duncan … Thanks for the input. I may have learned the phrase from my father, who was born in the US, but grew up in Canada. Hard to say … 🤨.

  3. @DuncanR. Nope, today it was me at 9:25. I thought I was going fast. No problem areas. I’m just not that good on the tablet vs paper. Dalton the easy ones.

    1. Dalton the easy ones? DYAC! I have no idea what I was trying to say. OTOH, I had a good 10.7 mile mountain bike ride after the puzzle. 1600′ of elevation gain. Not bad for a 71 year old geezer.

  4. 8:24. I thought this was tricky for a Monday. Never heard of a NARWHAL.

    You actually need an A bomb (sort of) to detonate an H BOMB. It’s a fission reaction that detonates the fusion reaction. The fission reaction surrounds the fusion material with a buffer in between. The fission reaction is an implosion (not an explosion). The resulting X rays that are emitted from the fission reaction compress the fusion material to its critical mass which detonates the H BOMB. Don’t try this at home….

    Fred – The second is indeed the base unit of time for the metric system, but multiples (minutes, hours) and submultiples (milliseconds) are perfectly acceptable. A second is defined as 1/86,400 of the average solar day. All the other measurements are just multiples of that base number.

    Best –

    1. Since it was discovered that the earth’s rotation is slowing down, the historical definition of the second has been replaced. “Since 1967, the second has been defined as exactly “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom” (at a temperature of 0 K).”

  5. No errors… Typical 10 minute with pen and paper.. Nothing fancy going on here except a very symmetrical grid.

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